I was in Avignon, France, at Lukas Zpira’s Facto. It was around 2003. I was there with my daughters, my brother and her daughter. We spent the afternoon with Lukas, his daughter Mayliss and Gwendoline (the girl on the picture).
Just before we leaved, and after she kissed her, my daughter Ines, aged 7, asked Gwendoline : « is it your true face? « .
Yes, it is her real face, tattooed and scarified.
At that time, Lukas already had his implants on the skull (made by Steve Haworth) and a haiku tattooed on the side of the skull, but what stucked Ines most were the drawings on Gwendoline’s face, the colors that she worn deep under the skin…
Is is your true face? Isn’t it false? Isn’t it a mask? It is the face that you have forever?
Questions of a child (for whom disguise herself is a game) to an adult who has chosen to get marked permanently.
It was only twelve years ago. But at that time, I only knew a few people with tattooed face, Gwendoline, Lukas Zpira, Ron Athey… Wearing tattoos on the skull or on face was not so common, whereas today it’s on the verge to get popularized.
Knowing Jean-Luc Verna or Morgan Dubois and seeing their face’s transformations, spending time with Roland (from Visavajara, Germany), make easier the perception of others, even if their appearances break with the established body order,.
Those people are not ordinary people.
Get a mark to stand out: the black widow on Ron Athey’s temple or the tears tattooed at the corner of his eye, his tribal lines on the chin, the tattooed eyebrows of Lukas Zpira, the gray horizontal strip through the face of Morgan Dubois, the stars and X on Jean-Luc Verna’s face …
All this tattoos mark the personality, they emphasize it, they print something really different…
hypothesis Tattoo on the skull, the face or hands is a resurgence of the punk movement. Not that the Punks were the only ones tattooed as well. The Reverend Harry Powell, played by Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton in 1955) popularized this way of tattooing four letters on the fingers of each hand (love on a hand, look forward to the next). But it is adapted to the tastes of days with, for example, a cyberpunk declination on Morgan Dubois’s hand.
Anyway, the punk movement has created an open world of potential in assertiveness. With tattoos, the rejection of agreed appearances is no more ephemeral. By tattooing their face Punks portraied their lifestyle and their rejection of conventions to the world.
Today, the facial tattoo diversifies. It becomes a must of the « fuck you style » and links various people, men, women or others (I am thinking of Tiamat, the female dragon). In a previous post I wrote about those people who, through tattooing and other techniques, developed an animal appearance (Tiamat, Lizardman, Ted Parrot Man…). I continue my work on people with various esthetic projects but who all use their face to create new appearance rules in the western countries.
The contemporary facial tattoos break the conventional rules of the look. They create an inflection in the history of body modifications by spreading outside Salvadorian gangs, Eastern Europe mafias or New Zealand bikers.
True decorated faces emerge from various areas … the characters of fiction take flesh in the « real life ». By modifying one of the parts of the body supposed to express them unvarnished, the identities take shape and break the mould…