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24 March – 28 July 2013
Pin Sharp - Tattoo in Art

MUSEUM VILLA ROT, Burgrieden-Rot, Germany

Curator: Stefanie Dathe
Loans by Kontakt: VALIE EXPORT, Body Sign Action (concept), 1970

As social codes they are almost as old as humanity itself: The first tattoos have been ap-plied in the 5th and 4th century BC in Chile, North Africa and the Middle East. From this pe-riod also descends the oldest known coloured tattoo in Europe, which adorns the glacier mummy Ötzi found in 1991. Numerous evidences, scattered all over the globe, confirm the assumption that the custom of tattooing evolved as a sign of a group membership or as a ritual symbol among the people independently from each other.

In some cultures the art of inerasable body decoration reached mastership. In the 19th century tattooing became finally also a mass phenomenon in Europe: Noble men and women carried coloured pigments under the skin as well as members of the lowest class of the population. However, tattooed people were soon marginalised, stigmatized as criminals or as degenerated. That is why the tattoo experienced its heyday in the prisons until well after the Second World War.

Not until the mid-1970s, youth cultures like the punks brought the tattoo back into the middle of society and established thereby a lasting fashion trend. For a long time now, the markings of the body are not a phenomenon of the lower class and the outsiders anymore. Today, tattoos serve as a mean to express exclusivity, self-expression and distinction, as a sexual stimulation, jewellery, a symbol of protest or a political statement.

Even for many visual artists, the inability of the tattoo of being erased contains a magical appeal. The skin of the human or the animal body becomes a writing or a painting surface. Under the title Pin sharp/ Gestochen scharf this exhibition shows on the one hand an ethnological retrospect of the history of the tattoo with the aid of historical material. On the other hand it presents the artistic examination and interpretation of the theme from the last 50 years until the present.

Participating artists: Daniele Buetti, Wim Delvoye, Christian Dünow, Chris Eckert, Nathini Erber, VALIE EXPORT, FLATZ, Klaus Pichler, Fumie Sasabuchi, Frank Schäpel, Santiago Sierra, Timm Ulrichs, Huang Yan, Artur Zmijewski