|Thanks for the loan of the catalogue Mary! I understand it is for sale from the Agnes Etherington Gallery for $22.|
This week through the good graces of Mary MacDonald at Eastern Edge Gallery, I learned about another tattoo project: Bernard Clark's Tattoo Portraits. It is an exhibition originated by Agnes Etherington Gallery in Ontario. This gallery has always been of interest to me. They've done craft, African artifacts and a number of things that have aligned with my interests and so I keep a watch out for their name in the gallery listings. I recommend them if you are ever in their neighbourhood, which is Queens University in Kingston. Bernard Clark has done a lot of work for Skin & Ink magazine (do you want to see the pile of tattoo magazines on my living room floor?) and even photographed Angelina Jolie. Celebrity factor in spades. I studied the catalogue for the show. The essay was basically Clark's resume and the photos didn't impress me because there was much evidence of Photoshop to manipulate the images. When I shared the publication with Ned Pratt, he observed that the backgrounds had been dropped in.
I have a growing concern about the photography of tattoo subjects. Last year when I had the good luck to be in Chicago for the SOFA Art fair, I noticed this image:
|Invitation image from the Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago.|
I found it disturbing because, I felt (and you are welcome to disagree with me), they treated the tattoo individual like a sideshow freak. The image, at least in a version I saw, had really poor contrast and so was difficult to "read". When I showed the photo to my son he commented simply, "Mom, they made him look like a toad". It was a sensationalistic image that did not respect the fact that this was a man and not an animal. Now, I know we are all mammals despite the fact that Socrates defined men as "featherless laughing bipeds". But I do not want tattooed people to be laughing stocks. I don't think it is fair; legal perhaps but not just.