Delvoye’s fine body of work

The art of the tattoo has long been appreciated by indigenous communities in various parts of the world but now Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, who runs pig farms in China where he decorates the skin of the hapless swine with luxury goods labels, is using the ancient practice to create high-end works of art sellable in the most prestigious auction houses. His latest offering, Take a Walk on the Wild Side adorns the back of a Swiss man Tim Steiner (right), who was first seen in public in the de Pury & Luxembourg gallery in Zurich in 2006. Now the artist says a German collector has bought the living exhibit and intends to auction it (or him) at a place and time to be determined. The idea is that after Steiner’s death, “the right on his skin passes over to the owner of the work”. Not everyone is convinced. When French journalist Harry Bellet, whose body is adorned with a previous Delvoye design, offered himself to the Pompidou Centre in Paris as a display post-mortem, he was summarily dismissed for “legal reasons”. However Bellet has revealed to In the Frame that the Pompidou is now considering showing his skin design as a “mobile exhibition” while he is still alive. Meanwhile, in London UK film-maker Ben Lewis is still struggling to sell the Delvoye inscribed on his back showing a crucified Mickey Mouse. “Christie’s and Sotheby’s rejected me,” he says. “I should have gone to Phillips de Pury!”

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