How would you summarise your relationship with your tattoos?
I love my tattoos: each one represents a different aspect of my persona, my life, my art and the things that have made me who I am today. Each experience is key to the creation of the 'self', and each tattoo is a testament to that creation. I plan on being covered in such creations.
As an artist, do your tattoos play a role in your performance work or the image you project?
As an artist, self expression is very important. My tattoos are an extension of my 'self' and play an important role in the creation of my artistic persona. My body is my sculpture, my body is my artwork. Being a queer woman of colour, the fetishisation of the body and the relationship I have with it is very important to how I visibly navigate through life.
Do you think tattoos are or can be powerful?
Yes, very much so! Especially if you are from a marginalised group. Tattoos are a form of self expression and for those who are invisible, they can be an important marker of visibility. Tattoos have usually been associated with the cis-male body. For those who do not conform to such a body, tattoos can be a strong affirmation of letting go of these binary codes.
What would you say to someone who thought that a body with tattoos is ‘tainted’?
I would say "each to their own”. Just because one person finds something unattractive, it doesn't mean that it’s unattractive. We all have our own ideas of what beauty is. Some are able to look past stereotypical codes of beauty and some aren't, and that's OK. I would, however, also say that ‘being tainted' is nothing but a patriarchal ideology that seeks to homogenise the very strains that mark our differences.
We hear this language of being ‘tainted’ often used about women...
Yes well, is that really surprising? Women who have not adhered to any conventional beauty standards have for so long been ostracised until that thing which deems them "ugly" becomes a trend and therefore acceptable. Tattoos are becoming more and more acceptable in western societies that it's no longer so much of a taboo. But, there is always a catch 22, right? Once those characteristics become standardised, there will still be other ways in which the patriarchal structures will find a way to define you. Bleurgh.
Do people ever touch your tattoos?
All the time and it's pretty frustrating sometimes. I mean, if they at least ask, then that's different, but a lot of the time they don't ask and I find it's used as an excuse to touch my body. I find that most of the time it's men that will approach me because of wanting to touch my 'tattoos'. Anyway, what do they think will happen? That it will jump out from my skin? It's 2D!
Do you feel differently about your body or a particular part of your body after having it tattooed?
Actually, up until I had my chest tattooed, I wasn't really a fan of it. For a while now I've been wanting to get a chest reduction because i didn't like the way they looked, but after having been tattooed there, my breasts are growing on me.
Featured tattoo artists: Kostas-Knk (chest piece), Julia Seizure (unicorn & girl power platform)