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Tattoo and Body Art Histories
These books gather the whys and wherefores of body art in the writers’ or speakers’ own words.
Dorothy Parker's Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos
edited by Kim Addonizio and Cheryl Dumesnil
Most tattoo books are collections of full-color images and body shots, exploring how individuals interpret what it is to be tattooed. This book has these elements, but no pictures for a change. Edited by Kim Addonizio and Cheryl Dumesnil, both tattooed, this is a written depiction of tattooing. The collection includes fiction, personal memoirs, poetry and anecdotes on the physical experience and lifestyle choice to have skin art. The title comes from the historical fact that writer Dorothy Parker had a star permanently inked on one arm.
The excerpt from Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man" will be remembered as familiar and formative to many tattoo fans. Artists write about what it was like to learn to tattoo and related various ink-related adventures with a wide array of wild customers. Concentration camp survivor Paul Steinberg describes his involuntary tattoo experience. Mastectomy survivor Deena Metzger's tattoo falls at the other end of the ink spectrum as part of her chosen healing process. There are tales of joy, sorrow, smart choices, drunken moments, good ink and bad.
The short lengths of the pieces makes reading this on transit or during those short breaks during the day easy, and the subject matter is a great distraction from the mundane. A definite book for the collection of those who write about tattooing, or are looking for some more historical perspective.
ModCon: The Secret World Of Extreme Body Modification
by Shannon Larratt
If you've read the Re/Search volume MODERN PRIMITIVES and ever wondered where everyone was going to go from there, this is the book. If you think everyone now has a tattoo or a piercing, ask yourself how many people do you know with a branding or cutting? Do any of your friends have implants? Do you think your body might be improved by amputation? This is area of the world where MODCON takes the reader.
ModCon, a private convention/gathering of extreme body art enthusiasts and artists, is documented in this volume of interviews and pictures, with some material coming from the author's private collection. You will see implants, surgical alterations and every form of permanent skin art, all modifications and changes made at the wishes of the wearer. The pictures are highly-detailed, full-color and sometimes disturbingly graphic in their medical nature.
As a person who has collected body art for almost twenty years now, I have seen a lot of unique people. I bought this book because it went beyond anything I have seen before. The interviews reveal an incredible array of focus and desire when it comes to why everyone is doing these things, as well as varying, and sometimes scary, degrees of will to carry out the mental vision for the physical body. If you want a book that will confront you with questions and shake up your perceptions about humans and how they view and use their bodies, this is one of the ones. Collectors of "the extreme" should also take note.
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