Art and Sole

Report and pictures by: 
Phyllicia Wang

Art is no skin off his back — it’s off his feet.
 
Multi-disciplinary artist Ezzam Rahman’s raw material is the dead skin off the soles of his feet.
After he peels and scrapes the skin flakes, he assembles them into pieces that look like animal fossils, insects, flowers, wheat and embryos.
 
It started with an art class project in 2009. Mr Ezzam needed to show time through art and the idea of using skin struck him when he realised his habit of nail-biting could allow him to make a sculpture using his skin.
 
Now, he scrapes his skin off his sole monthly. New skin will regenerate in a span of three to four weeks.
 
He puts them in an airtight plastic container so it will slow the decay.
 
Mr Ezzam, 34, who is also the joint winner of this year’s President’s Young Talents Award along with multimedia artist, Ong Kian Peng, 34, has created six projects that have garnered much attention since 2009.
His 2014 project, Ouch!, showcased five “fossils” — dragonfly, fish, bird, lizard and frog — all made from his skin.
 
Mr Ezzam said: “That is the study of life after death. It’s like what’s going to happen after the soul leaves the body and you are left with just the residue... (The fossils) are all skeletal but the idea of decay is still there, so something is still alive which is the bacteria (causing the) decay.”
 
As to why he enjoys this unusual art form, the part-time lecturer at Lasalle College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts said: “I think we are all obsessed with certain things that we collect, like some people collect toys or books.”