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To give something forever (scarification with tattoo machine)

To Give Something Forever Sara Stenger

I (the conductor), and the artist that performed this story's modification attend a school of fine arts in Pennsylvania. The class was Performance Art a specialized sculpture class taught at Tyler School of Art by Lisa Bradley.

The assignment was to perform a durational piece that involved; task and instruction. My work is about memory, identity, personal history, and relationships. How could I make all these things tie into a whole.

I enlisted the help of Richard, a multi-talented artist that I had fallen madly in love with. I knew him well, worked with him professionally at school on other pieces and knew with his skill and attention to detail he would dive into the instruction and accept my offer.

The task was for me to give something permanently of myself to someone else in a way that would bond us until my own death.

The proposal was that I was going to let him select a piece of me forever. I went to him to tell him of my idea. I offered my body to him for him to select a piece of me to own, the perimeters were that it had to be something he wanted that was not out of lust or taboo but just out of ownership. The instruction was to take this piece of me and claim it publicly and permanently.

I knew that he is a tattoo artist and that might be his method of claim, but he is also a glass blower (a pyromaniac with a bit too much testosterone) so perhaps it would involve heat. My fears guided ideas of methods and then I relinquished the plan to him when I realized I could not sabotage such beauty. He accepted and went to work with ideas... occasionally telling me of them and me telling him that I did not want to know until it had happened.

The day it was to happen I was filled with jitters. I began to wonder if perhaps I would regret the action; the person, the public display of all these things. We entered the auditorium with my class of a dozen. He set up on a long table cleaning everything and making it quickly and efficiently into a makeshift studio. Two folding chairs sat facing each other I sat in the one closest to the class. Video cameras taping and digital cameras snapping shots of the beginning of what no one knew was about to happen until he hooked up his tattoo machine. Questions were flying and none were answered until all were silent.

He said "I want your back." I removed my clothes and sat. I sat away from everything that was happening. I could hear just sounds of buzzing, tracing paper crinkling, and him clearing his throat. I buried my face into a dark piece of my clothing so no one could share my expression.

When he began I felt nothing, just relief that the commitment had been made. Then twenty minutes in I began to feel tired and weak from sitting in the same posture with a million tiny cuts burning on my back, every wipe feeling like a slap. I turned to see little wells of black ink and smiled thinking I knew what I had. He stood when finished and all watched as I stood up, stretched my legs and wiped my face off. I left to regain my vibrancy and went to the restroom to clean my face and see what I had received and had given away. A large, red rectangle glowed on my back the shine of my own blood drawn out to the surface and not a drop of black ink.

The class toiled with questions and fought for turns. Wondering really whose piece it really was, and in the end I had mine and he had his.

At first I was dizzy and thought perhaps I was just bleeding a lot. I said ' You used no ink?' He smiled and said "No." He felt as though he hadn't really claimed it permanently but I feeling weary and proud knew that he had taken more than a virginity, and whether ink or scar his acceptance to claim my back was just as permanent as my willingness for him to take.

His a trick but mine permanent.

I found this experience to be both liberating and submissive. I would do it all over again. With every shower I take I watch it fade, and his promise of it lasting perhaps six months has now entered its 14th. The relationship that was to follow because of such an action was an incredible bond between two artists that needed one another. No man has touched me like him and no man shall again.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 28 June 2006
in Scarification

Use this link to share:

Artist: Richard+Wren+%28+currently+at+The+Inkwell+in+Southampton%2C+PA%29
Studio: Tyler+School+of+Art%2C+Temple+University
Location: Elkins+Park%2C+PA

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