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,