For Penone, the finger is related to our sense of touch. In Svolgere la propria pelle—punta del dito medio della mano destra, Penone photographed the tip of his right middle finger and collaged it onto 238 sheets of paper arranged in a grid. At a distance, the work appears as a serial grid of abstract forms. When viewers look closely, however, they see an intimate gesture unfold before them.
The photograph records the contact of the finger pressed against a small glass plate. The work renders in visual form the reciprocal act of touching: When our fingers touch a surface, they are touched by that surface as well. The interplay between touching and being touched is central to Penone’s work.