For a long time tattooing was a violence that man inflicted on himself. To himself or to a category of the population: slaves, bandits, prisoners… The one who designated by a number on his wrist the deportees in the Nazi concentration camps was not not the least of the abuses that hit them insofar as it helped to dehumanize them. Even their tormentors, the sinister SS, had their blood type tattooed under their left armpits, a distinctive sign that had more than one arrested after World War II.
A tattoo is full of meaning, it expresses both belonging to a community and a singularity . It is even a symbol of rebellion and assertiveness. What idle schoolboy has not tried, under the pale neon of a study room, to clumsily engrave himself “fuck”, “Satan” or “AC / DC” on the forearms, with the only tools the tip of a compass and the contents of an ink cartridge?
Our body is no longer an inviolable sanctuary . It now constitutes a field of artistic expression, a living exhibition, and tattooing has become a social phenomenon over the past twenty years. It is no longer the mark of the outcasts and affects all categories of the population, from the notable good chic to the supermarket cashier. Its explosion is even amplified by the tyranny of social networks, the cult of the body, the star-system and a devouring narcissism. What distinguished us was even diluted in a certain conformism. If General de Gaulle, among other conservative figure, were still alive, he would undoubtedly wear an elegantly calligraphed “Yvonne pour la vie” on the biceps or a scarified cross of Lorraine on a calf.
One in five French people is tattooed today. Tomorrow will we all be? A European regulation comes incidentally to remind us that tattooing is not without danger and that we do not undermine without consequence what nature has offered us most intimate . Thus certain colored inks could cause cancer, which we suspected even if no study seems to validate it. In Japan, however, the Yakuza, these gangsters tattooed from head to toe, die early of cancer or lymphomas. Let’s not risk our skin for a little color. And to choose between two artists, let’s get Soulages’ outrenoir tattooed rather than Klein’s blue.