A phrase that has become almost synonymous with an entire genre of pornography for western culture, “hentai” is the combination of the Japanese kanji characters “hen,” meaning strange or weird and “tai,” meaning appearance or condition. As an adjective it means abnormality or perversion but it has come to be recognized by many as the genre of animated pornography in its entirety. In its Japanese meaning, it can be used in both science and psychology, and does not carry the same singularity that it does for the West.
It was in the 1920s that the usage of hentai really began to solidify it’s meaning in a sexual sense, as German medical texts were being explored and translated. ‘Perverse sexuality’ became a topic of interest and study. During the early 20s Japan developed an industry of publications devoted to the discussion of perverse sexuality with journals comprised of articles submitted by experts, medical professionals and those willing to share their stories and experiences; this was supported by the working classes rising literacy rates that placed reading as a favorite pastime and allowed a ‘low scientific culture’ to develop. (Fruhstuck)
When used in Japanese in its sexual context, hentai seiyoku meaning ‘abnormal sexual desires,’ refers specifically to sexual material of an extreme nature. Anime and manga that depict sexual encounters of the more vanilla variety are referred to as “ero” whereas hentai (in its abbreviated form) refers to perverse or unusual sexual circumstances both same-sex and heterosexual that are dialed up to an Nth degree of fantasy (ladyboys, gang rape, bizarre and/or illicit partners like aliens or monsters).
Ahegao – “weird face” a close-up of a flushed, overly exaggerated orgasmic expression usually featuring the characters mouth open, tongue extended and eyes rolled [...]
After viewing Mina Aoki’s work, one might never guess that she’s only been tattooing a few years. Aoki, who began working at New York’s Daredevil and Fun City Tattoo shops as an after-school job at 14 years old, later apprenticing and ultimately working as a tattooer, has been cited by many as a rising talent and, more importantly, as someone with an unparalleled passion for the trade. Her tattoos–full-bosomed ladies with long, smoothly shaded hair, her disembodied eyes and mouths, romantic roses, and crisp tribal work–are not only impeccable but always incredibly sexy. We recently caught up with her to talk about her inspirations, work, and influences, ranging from 70s pornography to fantasy novels.
You started working at Fun City and Daredevil when you were only 14. How did you start working there? Had you been interested in tattooing prior to getting that job?
I started working at both Fun City and Daredevil in the summer of 2006, almost 8 years ago. I was 14 at the time, which sounds pretty wild since I was so young.
My father was actually a client and friend of Brad Fink, the co-owner of Daredevil. I remember going into Daredevil for the first time when I was 12. It was in the old location, 174 Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side, and it was right when the shop was being extended, so Brad gave my father and I a tour of the space. I remember seeing Michelle [Myles] there, and even though I didn’t know who she was yet, she looked so cool to me; she was this beautiful blonde woman, covered in tattoos, sitting at the drawing table drawing for her next appointment. That was when I realized that [...]
Thanks to New York University’s Fales Library the journals of multimedia artist and social activist David Wojnarowicz have been digitalized and made available to view in full online. Containing personal tales of the unsung hero’s travels across Europe and America and correspondence with those he became associated with alongside the developmental processes of his art and film work, the catalogued pages are dated from 1971 to 1991 shortly before the artist’s own death from an AIDs related illness in 1992.
The artist was known to be the lover of photographer Peter Hujar (most noted for his photography of American actress Candy Darling on her deathbed) before his death from AIDS complications in 1987, after which the Wojnarowicz’s work became heavily concerned with and driven by the social and legal injustices inherent in the response to the AIDS epidemic, summed up so succinctly a jacket worn by the artist at a demonstration emblazoned with the words “If I die of AIDS – forget burial – just drop my body on the steps of the F.D.A.” [the American Food and Drug Administration at the centre of controversy surrounding the mismanagement of responses to the AIDS epidemic].
Sadly the battle against the injustices highlighted in his work continued long after his death, even recently in 2010 the Smithsonian removed and edited footage from Wojnarowicz’s short fiilm A Fire in My Belly following complaints from members of religious groups, his journals act as a lasting reminder of the need to demand the basic rights that are so sadly still denied in the shadows of the often not so far flung corners of the world.
See the papers in full here.
Alex Heir was born in 1984 and graduated from the Pratt Institute in 2006 with a BFA in Printmaking. He currently lives and works in New York City, running his clothing label Death/Traitors founded in 2007 and does illustration for the clothing. He also plays in the NYC post-punk band SURVIVAL and industrial hardcore band L.O.T.I.O.N. At Sang Bleu’s we’ve asked Alex to choose his ten favourite record covers.
‘I think this list does a nice job of illustrating the aesthetic that I really enjoy; that middle ground between ugly and beautiful, where the slight imperfections of a powerful piece make it all the more exciting to look at. These aren’t the works of “masters,” but I find myself drawn to rugged pieces like this more than piece by more technical draftsmen. ‘
You can have a look at Alex’s recently released book on Sacred Bones which is available here
Grace Neutral is the social networking phenomenon and tattooer whose popularity has escalated at an accelerated speed over the last year.
She is perhaps best known for having her eyeballs tattooed a light lilac colour, her belly button removed, nose stretched, face tattooed, the shape of moons carved out of her cheeks and ears turned into pixie shapes as well as having 90% of her body tattooed with manga and disney characters.
With almost seventy thousand followers on Instagram, Grace shares with us images of her hand poked tattoos of cartoon characters and mandala designs created at Good Times Tattoo in London and her own body modifications.
So what is it about Grace that people are finding so fascinating? Tattooing has become so common place within youth culture and body modification isn’t that far behind this current trend , so what is it that Grace has created within this culture to have accumulated all this attention? Working as a tattooer is increasingly becoming more and more popular so what does it take to grab the attention of so many in the way in which Grace has?
Is Grace Neutral presenting us with a new format where she has sabotaged a conventional form of female sexuality and our expectations of womanhood or is she creating a new one? And if she is creating a new one is this something that she is doing with an aim to actively challenge our expectations? The tattoo world still exists as a predominately masculine world so having this new young girl accumulate so much attention so quickly has certainly challenged what we expect of a female tattooer.
What does it mean in our contemporary culture that girls want to inlay their bodies with cartoon characters? This of course is nothing new, tattooed images of cartoon characters are completely intertwined with notions of flash design dating back [...]
A few days ago I found this exceptional book in the library. I was initially drawn to the cover and back image but after flicking through it, it threw out a some fantastic surprises. Written by a Fleet Street journalist during the hey day of Punk in Britain in 1978, Hennesy naively (and quiet honestly offensively) tries to compare the adornments of the punk style to tribal body modifications. These base comparisons are shown quite graphically side by side on most pages by having on one page a London punk being suitably insulting and on the other page a person from Africa, Asia or South America (i.e pretty much the entire world) wearing a vaguely similar nose ring or make-up, behaving in a very normal way. Although the book is beyond being dated, it’s layout is really rather attractive and the utter fear the journalist radiates out of the book in its comparisons reminds the reader of how terrified people really were of punk at the time.
The imagery of the punks is so refreshing in how is enables us to see just how original this movement was at the time. The photos pick up on certain details and adornments which have become lost in translation since punks inception like the drastic but lazy make-up or the layers of jewellery. This is especially prevalent in how extreme and almost de-sexualised the women’s looks were.
Other than the patronising content on behalf of both the counter culture and the people of the world exhibited in the book, it does have some great documentation of attitude fuelled young punks which can be seen here.
“I am looking for perfection in form. I do that with portraits. I do it with cocks. I do it with flowers.” Robert Mapplethorpe at the Grand Palais Paris
The Grand Palais in Paris is known for being a space which exhibits only the most highly acclaimed artists. Robert Mapplethorpe however much adored by us, is an artist whose work has existed within the reals of the gay BDSM scene and New York subculture so it seems interesting that an establishment as renowned as The Grand Palais are ready to deal with such contemporary and possibly controversial themes and work. Exhibiting over an impressive 250 works this exhibition will be the largest ever to be devoted solely to Mapplethorpe 25 years after his AIDS related death.
The breadth of work on show exhibits Mapplethorpe’s ability to create both grace and strength through his monochromatic subjects which are on show alongside Polaroids of the early 1970s to the portraits from the late 1980s, touching on his sculptural nudes and still lifes, and sadomasochism.
The exhibition also touches of his more delicate portrayal of women with fantastic presentations of the strong Patti Smith and Lisa Lyon, which is a lesser known area of his work in contrast to his sculptural extravagances of the male body. His famed images of the nude black and white portraitures infuse with depth and geometric dimension but are also put on show next to personal portraits of friends and sexual endeavours.
Like Man Ray, Mapplethorpe wanted to be “a creator of images” rather than a photographer and the challenge of this exhibition is to show that Mapplethorpe is a great classical artist, who addressed issues in art using photography as he might have used sculpture. “If I had been born 100 or 200 years ago, I might have been a sculptor, but photography is a very quick way to see, to make sculpture.”
The variety of his work will exemplify the very core [...]