Tattoos still visible on the skin of a Tarim Basin mummy. The Tarim mummies are a series of mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang, China, which date from 1900 BCE to 200 CE. Some of the mummies are frequently associated with the presence of the Indo-European Tocharian languages in the Tarim Basin, although the evidence is not totally conclusive.
More can be found out about these mummies here
Marsha P. Johnson was the boundary pushing gay and transgender activist who sadly past away in 1992. This documentary tells the story of her truly inspiring and sadly lesser known life which throughly deserves more attention for the incredible work that she achieved. Johnson was a veteran of the Stonewall Riots and co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Sylvia Rivera in the 1970s, providing shelter and support to young trans women in New York.
Besides from her humanitarian work she was immortalised into a portrait by Warhol as one of New York’s greatest personalities and Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons supposedly named his band after her. She also had an exceptionally eccentric style but most sadly the biggest question is over her mysterious death which was pronounced by the police as suicide after being found in the Hudson River. Her friends have vehemently questioned this and in 2002 the inquest was reopened as there have been suspicions that she was assaulted in that area. Once when Johnson was asked by a judge what the ‘P’ in her name stood for, she famously remarked what later became her trademark – “’PAY IT NO MIND’
Despite their name (from the Latin word pictus: painted, decorated), nobody knows for sure whether the Picts truly had tattoos. By the 16th Century, as colonization of “The New World” was underway, artists and writers began cataloguing descriptions and images of “primitive” tribal people, both across the Atlantic and at home (but, it’s worth noting, from many centuries prior). In 1585, Roanoke settler Thomas Harriot released A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia with illustrations by John White depicting Native Americans hunting, fishing, etc. A supposedly sympathetic work, the volume included engravings of the Celtic Picts, nearly nude and bodies covered with designs, to show “that the inhabitants of the Great Bretannie have been in times past as savage as those of Virginia.” 
In 1930 the interior of Papua New Guinea was one of the last great unexplored regions left on the face of the earth. First Contact is assembled with mainly 16mil footage made by Australians visiting the country and its people for the second time. The footage was discovered in the 60s and then re assembled with the original footage from 1932 and interviews with the first visitors into this heartbreaking but aesthetically gorgeous film. Primarily focussing on the discovering of gold in the country, the film follows the destruction of greed and colonialism in the most painstaking way.
Tragic Tattoo Tales: A Valentine’s Day Lecture and Reading with Tattoo Scholars Anna Felicity Friedman and Matt Lodder
Exciting talk this Thursday in Brooklyn!
Love, loss… and disfigurement, murder, and flayed skin (with a bit of cannibalism and sadism thrown in for good measure). What better way to spend your Valentine’s Day evening than to join us for a glass of red wine, a bite of delicious chocolate, and a lecture on the history of tattooing combined with a reading of a series of historical tattoo-centered short stories by authors such as Roald Dahl (1958), Saki (1911), Junichiro Tanazaki (1910) and John Rickman (1781)?
On Thursday please join us for an evening with tattoo scholars Anna Felicity Friedman and Matt Lodder (both heavily tattooed themselves) who will lecture about and read tales that interweave tattoo history with romance and the macabre. Through illustrated slide lectures, Drs. Friedman and Lodder will present comparative historical material to provide context and deeper understanding and to separate fact from fiction. Learn about wide ranging tattoo topics in both Western and non-Western cultures and have questions answered that the stories raise. Did people really preserve tattooed skin? What were people reading about tattoos in the early twentieth century? Were Maori really tattooed head to foot? What were the connections between Ukiyo-e and Japanese tattooing in the Edo period?
And the stories… Come hear the account of a young Maori woman and an English sailor who had himself completely tattooed to gain her favor, only to be forcibly returned to his ship (in John Rickman’s 1781 travel narrative from Captain James Cook’s third voyage). Cringe at the tale of a businessman tattooed in Italy with an elaborate scene, but who was prohibited from ever showing it to anyone, swimming, or leaving the country (in Saki’s 1911 “The Background”). Shudder at the story of a Japanese woman lured into a tattooer’s studio, drugged, and forcibly tattooed (in Junichiro Tanazaki’s 1910 “Shisei (The Tattooer)”). Enjoy the fantasy of a young and not-yet famous Chaim Soutine who, during a bacchanalian evening, rendered a dorsal portrait of a tattoo artist’s wife that later mysteriously turns up as a “canvas” in an art gallery (in Roald Dahl’s 1952 “Skin”). Additional images related to the stories will be screened during the readings.
Chocolate and red wine will make things festive.
Anna Felicity Friedman has been researching the history of tattooing for over 20 years. Her recently completed PhD, from the University of Chicago, focuses on tattooed transculturites—Europeans and Americans who acquired non-Western tattoos as part of a process of cultural identity transformation. Her photoblog, Tattoo History Daily, offers glimpses into myriad aspects of tattoo history. An interdisciplinary scholar, she has taught, written, and lectured about body art, maps, rare books, and other sundry topics, works as a freelance curator, and currently teaches hybrid literature/film/art courses at the University of Chicago.
Matt Lodder is a London-based art historian. His work is primarily concerned with the history of Western tattooing and the artistic status of body art and body modification practices including tattooing, body piercing and cosmetic surgery. He writes regularly for Total Tattoo magazine, gives public lectures on tattoo history and related topics, works as a freelance writer and broadcaster for both radio and television, and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in contemporary art and theory at the University of Reading and the University of Birmingham. He is currently writing a book called ‘Tattoo: An Art History’ for IB Tauris, due for publication in 2014.
Thursday, February 14
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
543 Union Street #1E
Brooklyn, New York 11215
Leicester Square, May 1982
Tuinol Barry, Chelsea 1982
Skinhead, Leicester Square 1980
To see more of the exceptional photographs of Derek Ridger’s documentation of British youth culture have a look here.