Except in places where tattoos and tattooing form part of the indigenous culture, I never could understand why some people would want to go through the painful process of having their bodies painted that way — permanently, at that. The Travel & Living Channel now has three shows on tattooing — the original Miami Ink, the spin-off L.A. Ink and, most recently, London Ink, the latest spin-off. I can’t stand watching them.
I am, however, mesmerized by body painting (the temporary, washable kind) artists at work. Remember the Vanity Fair cover with a nude but fully painted Demi Moore? That’s it on the left as it appears on the cover of Body Painting: Masterpieces by Joanne Gair.
I think it’s interesting to use the human body as an art medium but the thought of mutilation, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is something else. I have pierced ears, so do my daughters, all of us having been born in a culture that associates earrings with femininity. I wish it weren’t so. If my ears hadn’t been pierced when I was a baby and I had that option as an adult, I don’t think I’d do it. If I had been more discerning when my daughters were born, I probably wouldn’t have subjected them to ear piercing either. If they wanted it when they were older, say today, they can have their ears pierced themselves. But, strange as it is, they have actually allowed the piercings to close and they have this abhorrence for wearing earrings.
But there is no mutilation involved in body painting and I think it’s a marvelous form of self-expression. Alex has this thing about dragons and she wanted a henna tattoo with a dragon design. She had one when we were in Boracay last summer. Too bad I wasn’t there to see the artist at work but Speedy took enough photos to allow me the thrill of some vicarious experience.
A few days ago, Alex gave me a rare treat. She doesn’t like being photographed all that much but she actually asked me to photograph her hand, volunteering that it was perfectly “bloggable.”
She painted the back of her left hand using an ordinary sign pen.
Sam initially thought they looked like tadpoles. On second thought, she said they were sperms swimming. Me? I think they’re marvelous.