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Sewing the Palms

Does love really has to hurt? According to artist David Cata it obviously does. He is a multidisciplinary artist from Spain who recently created a series of works where he sewed portraits of people who have left a mark on his life into the palm of his hand. David Cata’s portrait project is both interesting and slightly disturbing, so viewer discretion is advised. He describes his ongoing series, “A Flor De Piel” as an autobiographical diary of which his skin is the canvas. Instead of putting paint to canvas, Cata creates portraits of the people in his life using a needle, thread, and the palms of his hands.

It seems like David chose this bizarre form of art to symbolize union and separation; pain and love in the act of sewing beautiful portraits of people into his palms and then ripping them out. Cata documents this action with photography and videography, imprinting his life story into various surfaces. Each portrait takes about four hours to complete. After completing each picture David picks the needlework out of his hand before starting on the next one.

This has got to be one of the most bizarre art-forms we have ever came across. While this may be body modification in the name of art, it is still pretty disturbing. Granted that David does not sew right into his flesh, instead he just embroiders the top layer of his skin which does not hurt but he occasionally does pierce his flesh by accident. When he is done with his palm embroidery and have taken photos to document it, he will proceed to brutally rip the stitches off his palm which most of the time results in blood spilling out. Using a needle he only embroiders the top layer of his skin. While the needle only pierces the dead skin, the process of sewing and of unraveling the portraits is still painful to watch.

Overexposed emotions is kind of an autobiographical diary, the artist embroiders portraits of people who have influenced or marked his life – featuring faces of family, friends, teachers, lovers, partners, and others interwoven into his body just like their lives have been interwoven his own – by physically marking his palm with these images. “By sewing into the palm of my hand I paint the faces of the people that have left their mark on my life”, Cata explains, “Their lives have been interwoven with mine to build my history. Every moment lived stays in the memory to finally be forgotten. Somehow, this fact is painful, since there are only material things and traces that people leave behind.”

This embroidered flesh corporally represents relationships we have with each other – love and union and the pain and loss felt through separation, as well as the residual imprint of the relationship. The process mimics interactions and possibilities in real life when dealing with others including “union, separation, pain and love.” In a statement on his website, the artist writes (roughly translated), “All the people we know make us somehow. Your image is projected upon us, reminding us of where we came from. Their lives become part of ours. Each stitch represents them over my skin, physical pain is no border, it unites us more, thinking that my hand has been marked in an act of affection. Thinking that once my hand touched her hand.”

Sewing the Palms Pic 1

Sewing the Palms Pic 1

Sewing the Palms Pic 1

Sewing the Palms Pic 1

Sewing the Palms Pic 1

Sewing the Palms Pic 1

Sewing the Palms Pic 1

Sewing the Palms Pic 1

Sewing the Palms Pic 1



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