Body Modification as an Art Form-Kelly Sechler


During last Mondays lecture the idea of the human body as a canvas was brought up. We talked about plastic surgery and artists modifying their bodies so that they become their own pieces of art. Although it is directly related the lecture seamed to skip over the idea of tattoos and piercings as an art form that utilizes the human body as a living canvas. Tattooing has gone way beyond the world of simple flash art that anyone can get. Now tattoos are custom designed for each client and are complex and detailed art pieces that can take years to complete. The designs can range from photo realism to abstract modern art. Members of body modification culture find their work to be an important part of their bodies and their lives. A tattoo artist Brian Fites explains why tattoos are important to him: “It’s one of the only things that I have no matter what,” Fites said, concerning his tattoos. “You can take everything from me, my worldly possessions?my freedom. All that stuff, but you cannot take this away from me. No matter what. This is who I am and people know that by looking at me… My body is just as much of a canvas as a piece of paper is. I figure out over a period of time what I want my body to look like. Since I have the ability to change it, I’ll do so.” <;

Lately body modification techniques have been getting more extream and more painful but, according to many enthusiasts, no less of a piece of art. New techniques include branding, removing skin, scaring, and implanting pieces of metal under the skin. All of these are still extremely controversial both from a social and legal standpoint. These techniques are still illegal in many states. In some states it is still controversial if traditional tattooing should be legal. This raises the question of where do we draw the line between art and self mutilation.


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