Background Image
Table of Contents Table of Contents
Next Page  269 / 292 Previous Page
Show Menu
Next Page 269 / 292 Previous Page
Page Background

Tattoos: The Human Body as a Work of Art

fashioned in response to the need for a new spiritual self-definition. This

genre attempts to understand the place of man in the world, and forge

initiation processes that would support the individual in Western culture.

The genre even encourages the creation of a holistic human society.

The last few decades have seen a development in the understanding

of the spiritual potential of tattoos, making it possible to use them as

initiation tools. The “modern primitive” movement, which developed

in the 1970s and 1980s, aspires to reinsert familial, tribal, and ecological

values into Western culture, among the rest, through ritual art, body

modifications, and tattoos with extensive cultural and anthropological



The term “Modern Primitives” was coined by body artist

Fakir Musafar (Los Angeles) and it refers to a non-tribal person, who

responds to his primeval drives to act upon his body – what he calls “Body

Play”. According to Musafar, the tattoo is fashioned to help the individual

recognize his own dormant personal magic. While the genetic microarray

of plants, birds and animals originally fashioned a rich variety differences,

the modern world attempt to erase all differences. Musafar, then, beckons

us to resist the modern oppressive pull towards homogeneity.


Designs today can be perceived as mere “sustainable designs”. As Raz

states: “The art of tattoos is naturally related to a social trend, which

has been gaining popularity in the last decade. This trend views the

preservation of the earth as a vital and absolute value. Its importance is

not constrained to the economic sphere, but extends also to the social

and moral spheres. This position aspires to persuade individual members

of Western society to purchase durable products, in order to reduce our

carbon footprint, which produces unnecessary pollution. The tattoo on

the body of the artist turns the artist and his art into a single substance.

Thus, body art makes the tattoo into an art with social and moral qualities,

which, through its very nature, embodies global and social values ….. The

tattoo endures throughout the life of the tattooed individual and expresses

the post-modern yearning for long lasting stability, and human affection….

This form of artistic social articulation requires tools and various forms

of expression, which do not originate from the industrialized world,