“Mad Dogs and Englishmen” was created as a tribute to the leisured idiot – the white tourist on holiday abroad, seeking an all-over tan. Caught out in the sun on a nudist beach in Central America, the artist-as-tourist accidentally gave himself a painful case of sun-burn, managing to lose an entire layer of skin from his backside.
Returning to England weeks later, he carefully laid each piece flat on a layer of glass, and painstakingly carved out a map of the world with a surgeon’s scalpel. The pieces formed new geographical boundaries and the crevices in his skin became emblematic of a new topography. It is as if the white skin that once colonized the world had been caught out in a moment of reckless stupidity, chasing the ideal of a brown body as a post-colonial tourist.
The exhibit won a special prize in a competition hosted by the French Consul in San Francisco and is currently on display in the entrance to the French Consul's residence, where it has hung for the past 4 years. The picture below shows the exhibit with the former French Consul Emmanuel Lebruns-Damiens.