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Peeling Off Some Flesh

Along with a minor majority of my peers I've had a past of self injury and being mentally skewed. After years of seeing my scars from my little emo moments and regretting how little meaning they really had, I decided to give myself scars that actually did have meaning. I really got into the whole process of discovering what technique lead to what result, and how I could turn that into a planned and meaningful design.

The main area that I hacked on when I was younger was my chest. I'm extremely flat and I was ashamed of it for a long time. I decided I'd do a piece that incorporated the tiny, faded scars. I wanted to try doing my own flesh removal. I've been mooching off of BME free samples enough to be inspired to try something so stupid. I had chosen the technique I would use. I had supplies. I had the drive to accomplish it. I just had to figure out what the hell I'd do.

As a little girl I decided that when I grew up, I'd be an angel. My family wasn't religious at all, so the idea of angels always fascinated me. I had no idea what they really were and what they were intended to do, but I knew I wanted to be one. Even though I outgrew my younger mind, and my younger body [in some ways], I've never outgrown my yearning to become an angel. The idea that I could be something more than human, above mortality, with a purpose handed to me by some all knowing God just gave me hope.

But I am human. I am mortal. I'm nothing more, and I can never be anything but. So what then? What can I make myself into that's maybe a half step above where I am? A saint.

This was the first time that I even considered putting a word into my flesh. I change my mind too quickly to pick a meaning for a word and stick to it. But, I knew that the meaning behind this word could never be anything else.

I intended for this scar to be a reminder to me that I should always be striving to achieve my purpose. And my purpose should be to make this world slightly less of a fucked up place. I decided to make myself a saint.

It all started by drawing up how big the letters would be, how they would be shaped, how they would be spaced, and how they would be placed. I took a couple weeks to think it over, and finally decided on making each letter around an inch tall. The I, though, would be about three inches tall. There would be an estimated half inch of space between each letter.

I didn't go an order some scalpels, like I should have. I didn't get any proper equipment or anything. I would strongly recommend getting the good stuff. Using whatever shit you have around the house is good enough for a lazy and careless person like me, but I took a lot of risks and I'm prepared for the consequences. You should be too. I used X-Acto blades that I hoarded when I spent the summer at an art institute. They weren't sterilized and I'm sure some of them I had used on projects previously. I'll repeat that this is NOT A GOOD IDEA.

I started with the T. It was very simple, took only a few hours. I scratched where it would be placed, I cut an outline, I made the outline deeper, and then I had the task of peeling up the skin. I have no clue how I knew how deep to go. I just used my best judgment and listened to my body. I did what was reasonable and easy.

I picked an edge and cut under it until I could peel it up some. I tried using a pair of tweezers to pull up the peeled edge, but they couldn't hold onto it. Again, the tweezers were just a pair I had lying around. They weren't sterilized because I'm lazy and STUPID. After getting sick of having no way to keep the edge up, I took a safety pin and stuck it through the skin, I then held onto the pin and sliced off a small strip of skin.

I swear, there must be blood on every surface of my room. I removed the whole T and called it a night. It took me hours of tedious work to make sure it was perfect.

The next night I did the N. I basically did the same thing, but had much more patience this time. I didn't stab anything with a safety pin. It turned out looking much cleaner and much more even.

A couple nights later I moved on to the A, which posed a few challenges. Having oblique angles to cut on my own chest is pretty difficult. I just took my time and followed the design. I had some more patience and it turned out even better than the N.

Maybe a week later I did the S. I had been letting the other wounds heal a bit before I inflict any more damage. The S was the most difficult to cut the outline of. It turned out looking slightly awkward, but it still fit into the design. It was the simplest to cut out, though, because it was a simple line of flesh.

For the past few days I've been working on the I. I decided instead of removing the whole I, I'd remove just an outline. And, I decided to do it in three sessions. First the top outline, then the side lengths, then the bottom outline. This should have been the simplest one to do but it definitely wasn't.

Before I can slice anything I have to be in the right mental state. I have to have the masochist's switch, where I can turn the pain into numbness or pleasure. After weeks of peeling flesh and tending to wounds, I ran out of the emotional energy. I had to push myself to get any section even started. But I did, and I finally got 2/3 of the I finished. The T, N, and A had healed by then and the S was coming along nicely. Then, I had somewhat of an accident.

We were playing soccer. I was a defender, and being the little defiant rebel I am I just stood there with my hands in my pockets. A player from the opposite team kept kicking for the goal and I blocked every single kick. He got pissy and decided that if he kicked harder maybe it would go straight through me and he could quit looking like a jackass. This guy was four feet away from me, and kicked the ball straight into my bloody, scabbed, sore, and red little chest. He knocked the wind out of me and I fell down.

Now I'm bruised and fed up. I have no more emotional energy to complete the last section any time soon, plus I'm bruised from a soccer ball being shot at the area. I'm going to have to wait possibly another week until I can finish, and it's going to drive me mad.

Until then I'll just tend to my wounds and whine about it, but I'm sure that once this piece has healed it'll be a very special reminder to me.

Details

submitted by: Anonymous
on: 24 Oct. 2005
in Scarification

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Artist: me
Studio: my+room
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