Thick invites visitors for a full body embrace. In a stretched position, the participant is gently compressed by the mass of air all around the body. This process creates a controlled pressure that promotes a soothing sensation and the release of oxytocin—a hormone known for enhancing the sense of connection and comfort. The work allows for the experience of touch after a year of collective deprivation of it.
On show at W139, Amsterdam, in That Those Beings Be Not Being (October 22nd – November 28th 2021).
Expansion, responsiveness, from discomfort to protection – participants’ accounts reveal a process of opening up, unknowingly, to a place beyond the conscious domain.
Without regular contact people can become “skin hungry”, a state in which they experience less touch than they want. The few studies that have been done into skin hunger suggest it is harmful. A survey of 509 adults from around the world in 2014 suggested that being deprived of touch was linked to loneliness, depression, stress, mood and anxiety disorders and secondary immune disorders. – ‘The pandemic made the world realise the importance of human contact‘, The Economist, Feb 20th, 2021
With thanks to Sofia Chionidou and Margarita Osipian.