A tattoo is a design made under the skin with ink or other pigment. Usually decorative or symbolic. It’s a type of body modification.
• WOUND OF BEAUTY, WOUND OF TIME…
Ephemeral tattoos, definitves tattoos, piercing, branding…since a few years we’ve seen those body modifications coming back in our western societies. How to exlpain it? A simple trend or a real expression of the desir to belong to a group, a tradition? Man has always adopted the art of camouflage, tattoo, of scarification even mutilation in order to means something, to communicate, by engraving in it’s flesh it’s membership to a group, to prove it’s courage or revolt or to protect against evil. This art of the body has a strong symbolic meaning: what’s written in flesh is written for ever and reach eternity. Even if it’s hurts the pain is an essential value !
• TATTOO: THE SPIRIT WRITTEN ON THE BODY.
On the back of neolithic hunter lineary tattoos has been found. (it seems that they follow acupuntur’s point) On fragments of skin of the egyptian priestess Amunet(4000 BC) we can see lines and point tattooed. Magical design or simple adornment? Marco polo was surprised of the design on the face, neck, chest, arms, belly of th einabitant of burma.
But it’s the captain cook coming back from it’s tahiti’s expedition that we aught the term “tatau” wich will become “tattoo”. Since then the nicest tattoos those of maori’s chiefs fascinate the westsern people.
In the XIXth century we can see an exotic fashion in fairs where aboriginals and sailors adorne surprising tattoos. The royal families of europe are seduced by tattoo; in danemark or sweden they get their family emblems tattooed. In england the prince albert get a ring in it’s…penis, inogurating piercing in europe.
By quoting the bible “you shall not make incision on your flesh” the church forbidde for a long time any body marks. According to them it’s the sign of non-civilised people. A “condemnation” which explain the feelings of repulsion and attraction at the same time.
So dispite this antic unjonction some are tacking back those ancestral practices. Borrowing sometimes to the graffitis(tags) desired as an adornement exposed or an erotic and private version of the one who offers it’s skin to the tattoo artist as a parchment or a canvas to stimulate the libido. Ricardo photographed by DOISNEAU, after 20 years of penal colony would expose porn tattoos on his bottom.
Some are wearing a tattoo as a permanent makeup, others are trying to restor damaged image of themselves, some are exposing on their skin their quest for indentity. The frontier is slim between aesthetical surgery and body painted for life: the first attempt of medical tattoo was in the XIXth century. Restructuration of the lips, eyebrows, hidding angioma.
The great turn for tattoo is in 1891 when SAMUEL O’RILEY invents the first electrical tattoo machine. From this time it’s no more a needle that penetrate the flesh thanks to a hammer, but needles linked to the machine which you can programe the depht of penetration (usually one millimeter). Risks of infection are massively reduced if the tattoo artist sterelizes it’s material…When appears the industrial indelebil pigments chinese ink is replaced. In 1986 skin-like pigment renew the art of tattoo. To play with it’s own body becomes trendy Johnny Depp expose his tattoos. Jean-Paul Gaultier borrows tin-tin’s tattoo for his fashion show. Of cours we are far from the “man-flower” of sumatra; whom the skin is painted like his ancesters defined it and enable him to live in an “acomplished body” and reach harmony. Nowadays aesthetics prevails on tradition.
If the the tattoo artist of the third millenium is not an artist the tattoo can turn into a punishment ; like it was in the old time for slaves, thieves…So you’d better know a real tattoo artist.
Their art is reproduced thanx to atracing paper or just with a lifted hand. Their style? Tribal (asian), celtic, new-school, realistic, portraits(from a picture), traditional american. The choice of the black and white, the art of color shadding, adjustement of the machines all are craftmen thechnic that mak the tattoo artist’s talent.
• PIERCING A METAPHOR OF THE SEXUAL ACT?
We know that tattoo is painfull but bearable what about piercing? Jewels on the nipples, belly button, lips, ring on the penis or the lips of the femal sexual organ…Body and face become the jewel box of adornment with obvious erotic meaning. An s-m fantasy or hardcore? since 1990’s every fantasy is allowed.
The piercing as metaphor of the sexual act can be seen as a way of life.
Basic jewels or metallic rings and rods. Some woods are also wearable. Every piercing is extensible ; so the first jewel can be replace by a bigger one.
• SCARIFICTION, BRANDING, IMPLANTS…
In the primitive socities like africa, the flesh was incised: that’s a scarification always done as aritual, a mark of virility or feminity.
Branding is also trendy it’s a mark made by burning the skin, it’s short but violent.
The word implant is used when one places a jewels under it’s skin, for exemple teflon’s rod.
Implants are amodern alternative to traditional piercing.
All this body modification expresses a new relationship with the body. If the aesthetic side prevails, there’s still a link with the primuitive society when you triumph over the pain.
But in our modern society the symbolic meaning of tattoo and piercing is more personal than colective. It’s necessary to keep the mark. It’s a kind of personal magic, an answer to an original need.
KUSTOM TATTOO PARIS