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Artist Iris Schieferstein broke into the fashion world like a hurricane, providing an unusual fashion line of shoes with 'grave smell', the main element of the decor which were carcasses of dead animals.  The designer from Berlin gets carcasses of animals from local butcher shops.  The modern day frankenstein later performs her magic to eventually create her one-of-a-kind masterpieces.

The artist discusses life, death and getting her knuckles rapped by the police in her homeland, Germany...

What attracted you to working with dead animals? 
My interest in using animals began in 1990. I was thinking about what we eat whilst I was preparing some fish. They are like garbage. They can’t eat or sleep or whatever. Then I started with chicken, because they look a little bit human-like. I started using them because of the nature of making and fixing, but also to create another material from the animals too. Of course, you could create them for a practical purpose, but for me it’s an artwork.

Do you think your art re-animates the animals in some way?
Somehow, it looks alive. In the beginning I put them in liquid, and straight away there seems to be a life. This is a very old, traditional thing; like if you go to a museum. I work in a very traditional method. You’ve had the Egyptians and the Greeks who used to preserve animals in the past, and I think somehow my work reminds you of that. It’s a game of thinking, ‘what is behind that?’ It will always figure in our history.

Do some people find your work shocking?
There might be some people who find it shocking, but it’s not really all that shocking because you can feel it everywhere; what you eat, what you’re wearing… This is all animal. If you worked in a slaughter house, then that experience would be shocking. I don’t think I’m shocking. I just try to get in touch with people in a different way. The audience can approach it from any direction they want.

Have you ever faced any criticism for your art?
When I began working with dead animals I would pick them up from the street. But these animals are protected by the government in Germany, and so after ten years they tried to put me in prison. It’s forbidden to show them or make art with them in Germany. All these free animals that used to live in the city or the country… You can go to jail for almost six years for doing what I did. It’s absolutely absurd. On the other hand, they will cut the horns off of a cow in Germany. I cannot follow or understand these things. There are so many rules in Germany that are absolutely stupid.

Shoes from horses' hooves, Cow Hide and gun barrels...

What dictates how one particular animal will be used in a piece?
It really depends on what’s in my mind, but they are always more than one thing. 

This pigeon-Treads cost 4700 euros. "Foreign business is better than in Germany,"...

Is your work open to interpretation?
Absolutely. I always try not to explain. Somehow I like to think of my artwork as a kind of explanation in itself. These are my words to use, to show people what you can think, or to send them in another direction. If something touches you, you just start thinking. Every artwork is carrying something for the people that decide to get in touch. I hope that people do get in touch with my artwork and feel inspired by it, and perhaps start to question certain things.

Interview with Iris Schieferstein via The Pop-sicle
Images:  Via | Via

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