Skin, an expression of identity

"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' is the boundary between the body and the external world, it is what holds our bodies in, separates ourselves and what we accept of ourselves from other things and from what we cannot accept. Body decoration, modification and pain rituals transgress this boundary, by cutting the skin, piercing it with needles and knives, burning or scaring its surface. Such an act of transgression of one's own body are concerned with 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 decoration. Some to make a social statement of being different. 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 respect.

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