Another visual pairing exploring tattoo culture with Cut production series, 100 Years Of Beauty and “…dark, stylish examination of tattoo culture…” Skin. The first piece from Cut takes their latest research and investigative approach to a concept with a little more permanence. A lot more actually. Their usual pieces look at a country’s culture throughout a century through hair styling and fashion. This beautifully shot short however, sees Casey Lubin go under the needle with tattoo artist, Clae Welch providing 11 tattoos in one week. The project highlights the evolution of Americana tattoos from Charlie Wagner to Nikko Hurtado in an arguably divisive manner. I think the it's pretty awesome. The piece might raise some questions over why people get tattoos, their meaning and relevance, the art form and the legacy of the people who made this counter culture evolve into what it is today.
My personal affection for tattoo culture is something that has simmered since I was very young. My first experience and knowledge of them, through my father who had plenty of them adorning his body, each with their own story. He had a classic litany of designs from an old school american eagle to a panther head, names in script, swallows, eyes on his back to some more obscure pieces such as Bam Bam and Pebbles from the Flintstones and even a naked lady in a hammock across his chest. That sparked intrigue. The story and the weight behind marking your body for life with a memory. For some people completely entrenched in the culture, the meaning of established, classic design and appreciation for the history of tattooing can lead to simply getting variations of iconic flash.
Personally I found the artist who's work I loved the most and presented ideas. Handing over creative control for some is difficult but I believe that’s the most fulfilling experience for artist and recipient. The most respectful perhaps, as well. There’s something beautiful in it’s permanence, aging with your skin. It’s a big commitment and I’m glad I made it. Helen at Skullduggery, Belfast has done both of my pieces. I love a tattoo that looks like a tattoo, if that makes sense? The bold lines. At this point the final thing Casey says strikes a chord.
Different strokes for different folks and all that. That’s why tattoo culture is unwaveringly, ever evolving. I feel there’s an innate human desire to mark our lives in some way and for a great number of people that isn’t just decorating a home, carving out a career or creating something but within the act of marking our bodies. Where tattoos were once considered counter culture, there is a modern acceptance to an extent that comes with good and bad connotations. Some might say Casey is crazy for getting bookmarks per decade on her skin, so to speak, and some will appreciate each individual tattoo, their placement and execution, meaning or lack thereof and find beauty in that. Also, on a sidenote, fair fucks to her for sitting for 11 tattoos in a week. I’m sure it was a pretty exhilarating experience beyond the pain threshold. Very worthy of 3 minutes of your time.
If anyone wants more than a few minutes on this, check out “Skin”, a film directed by Ryan Hope (Recently directed Disclosure & Lorde's latest visual for Magnets) that pushes the concept a little further. Much less an ode to the past century, Skin focuses on a contemporary art project that began back in 2011. A group of people volunteered to have their bodies transformed with artwork contributed by notable artists such as Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Raymond Pettibon. The film artistically documents each recipients story and outlines why they wanted to join in on the process. Some of the characters you meet throughout the production are like marmite but that’s all part of the fun I suppose. Featuring “….the most, contemporary, conceptual vagina on the planet” Yes. You read that. The piece delves deep into tattoo culture’s significance and value in modern society whilst touching on the idea of ownership. Press play and enjoy.