Steven Harwick describes himself on Instagram as "leather moon, furry rising" — a juxtaposition that manifests itself in the artist's new solo show, SKiNFLiCK. "That's just kind of how I feel all the time," Harwick says in an interview with art icons (and self-professed fans) Kembra Pfahler and Christeene. "A little bit soft and a little bit hard."
The Brooklyn artist's exhibition, on display at URSA NYC, plays with heavy concrete, rope and chain — materials that reference "feeling weighted" or appear in "bondage practices." His scattered mix continues with mirrors, pours of resin and liquid rubber — "things that spill" like body fluids. Plush teddies are trapped inside cement blocks next to worn combat boots bound together next to portraits of models in leather and whips next to Monster cans doused in orange spray paint.
This all reflects Harwick's interdisciplinary practice, which "aims to highlight identity, subversions and perversions," according to his website. He's beloved for his documentation of BDSM culture, namely through an inclusive, self-published zine, Bound Leather, that explores the contemporary leather scene through photography. SKiNFLiCK is yet another effort from Harwick that invites people to be "their courageous, fearless selves," Pfahler notes.
As the first official URSA NYC show, gallery founder Johnny Sagan (AKA Snowy Wilderness) says it was important for SKiNFLiCK to be installed into a physical space, as well as be available to view online. (In-person visits are made by appointment only). Sagan says shows like Harwick's break down the fourth wall and ask, "What if we could live inside these fantasies? What if we could breathe life into them? What if we could make them real?"
Rounding out URSA NYC's debut is an exclusive merch collab, which puts Harwick's ideologies onto clothing by Whatever 21 and Seks 5th Avenue. Tote bags feature various art prints, some decorated with plastic chain straps to echo the colors and shapes from SKiNFLiCK. There are also tees with hilarious statements like, "All I do is chug Monster Energy, pirate the new Linkin Park, suck dick & play Fortnite." (You can buy it all, here).
SKiNFLiCK by Steven Harwick is available to view at URSA NYC, now through March 28. You can schedule an in-person appointment, here, or check out a virtual tour online, here. For deeper insight, watch "Can't Wash Our Brains" between the artist, Kembra Pfahler and Christeene, below.