Thursday, July 21, 2005

Tattoo you

There has to be some cultural thing in Central Queensland about tattooing; which is a bit ironic since, apart from that of the indigenous Aborigines, there is next to no culture here at all.

There is only one tattoo parlour listed in the Rockhampton yellow pages, & one 40 kilometres away on the beach at Yeppoon, but a significant percentage of the local population – at least 10%, possibly higher – have visible tattoos. Maybe it's more evident because in a hot climate people tend to get about in short-sleeved dresses or T-shirts or shorts. Equibalanced between the sexes or perhaps tilting towards women more than men. Mainly small tattoos – hearts, roses, names &, yes, Ernesto, swallows – on ankles & breasts & hands & arms & backs, but there are larger imitation Maori moko or Celtic motifs showing on some legs & arms.

& generational. It is quite common to see mother / daughter / grandaughter all with tattoos. But today four generations! In the supermarket, an eightyish great-grandmother with the female side of her extended family. & showing on her right shoulder-blade, through her thin blouse, the tattoo of a rose.


richard lopez said...

a coincidence for the show on tv right now, brand new program, is called _ink_ about the working and personalities of a tattoo shop in las vegas. and the fact that i posted a question about what poets are inked on my blog too. i've got an obsession with tats, have a panther on my right shoulde inked when i was 19 and superrebellious punk. and a homemade one on my left ankle. and i think being a tattoo artist would be a cool gig. tattoos are common, everyone seems to have them now, but still carry the aura of the criminal, like the work of rimbaud or genet.

Ernesto said...

Interesting. And I loved your poem on the tattoo artist, Mark. I have been attempting translations into Spanish. Hope you don't mind.

One would think that with such heritage Australia -and New Zealand- would have much more presence of new Tattoo studios.

I have been meaning to post something on my blog on the "Mara Salvatrucha" phenomenon, which is expanding into Mexico. It is pretty worrisome that according to one major national newspaper, there are plans for "forbidding visible tattooing similar to the ones used by Mara gang-members". Such intervention into the private realm -the body, that cultural matrix of oppositions, that locus for the private and the public- would keep Foucault busy for a long time. Tattoo art has needed more than a century to prove itself as a legitimate artistic expression, and now this "Mara" violent youth gang phenomenon in America is being used by the mass media to discriminate and stigmatized the tattooed youth even more... It really worries me.

Neon said...

Amsterdam has 21 body-art shops listed in the yellow pages. I see a lot of young females with visible tattoos in the streets. The percentage of the population with a tattoo in the Netherlands is estimated in between of 5% and 10%. Piercings are even more popular in this country.