Alternative Mark making
I was reading an article about 55-year-old Californian Julia Gnuse, a woman who has 95 per cent of her body covered in art. She has acquired more than 400 tattoos on her body including the Beatles and the Cast of Bewitched. Julia who suffered from a skin disease began visiting a tattooist weekly and is now in the Guinness book of records.
The urge to decorate our bodies is strong within us. As warriors, tattoos were a badge of belonging – to a tribe though ironically they are now seen as a badge of individuality. The actual act of being tattooed can be undergone as a rite of passage or for spiritual purposes, rank, fertility, talismans – lots of reasons.
In the past tattoos were used to mark an outcast, a criminal, ‘ownership’ of fellow-men – slaves and to mark victims of the Holocaust.
Some tattoos can be very colourful and are art forms in their own right. When I decided to write about tattoos, my first thought was about the artist who actually uses tattoos in his work – Wim Delvoye.
This Belgian artist’s work is highly controversial and has caused much debate in the past because he tattoos animals. In 1992 he started to tattoo dead pigs. By 1997 he began to progress this idea by using the pigs as ‘Piggy banks’ literally. He tattooed live pigs much to the outrage of the media. The pigs were sedated and tattooed, the tattoos growing and changing with the pigs. Art buyers then bought the pigs…… and their skins.
There is something strange about this form of art to say the least and I can’t perceive what the artist is trying to get across in their work – apart from the obvious shock value. Delvoye has done other projects which involves the stuffing of the pigs. Not for me I’m afraid or for the faint hearted……
Wim Delvoye’s website
Brief history of Tattoos here
Info about Julia Gnuse and lots of tattoos here
Tribal Tattoo image from here