"I acted correctly by living in accordance with Mother Nature and not trying to oppose her... Since I have been tattooed, my life has been beautiful and meaningful" - Herbert Hoffman, Portraits of a Tattooing Passion 1878-1952
'Skin' describes the physical barrier or boundary between the body and the external world; it is what holds our bodies in, separates what we accept of ourselves from what we cannot accept. With body decoration, modification and pain rituals, it is necessary to transgress this boundary, to cut the skin, or pierce it with needles and other sharp implements, even to burn or scar its surface. Such an act of transgression concerns notions of identity, self-awareness and social belonging.
In the past few decades, an increased interest in body decoration and modification has emerged. What was once a marginalised practice - and for certain groups of people a sacred tribal or religious practice - has developed into one of near conformity. A variety of people now experiment with piercing, tattooing, scarring, branding and participating in 'pain' rituals.
Some people decorate and modify their bodies for no other reason than adornment and decoration. Some to make a social statement of being different from the mainstream. For others it may be the experience itself, a personally sanctioned rite of passage involving spiritual or emotional motivations, such as the reclamation of one's body, taking it into possession and marking it as one's own.
The tattooed, pierced and scarred participants in this work have a view of beauty, self-expression and emotional security that is different from that of mainstream society. This view and their difference are things that I fully respect.