Starting 7 May 2020 the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig is open again regularly from 10 to 18 (except Mondays). Please note that for the time being only the special exhibition "Scenes of life" is on display.

(un)coveted - Introduction

[Translate to English:] (un)begehrt - Einleitung

In the past, tattoos and piercings were often regarded with skepticism – always vigorously talked about, and at the same time marveled. Since the beginning of the 21st century, they are widely visible on the streets in Saxony, either worn with pride or hidden from sight for religious, personal or political reasons.

On the skin, they serve as a means of communication and observation. To see and be seen: during the 18th and 19th centuries, tattoos were regarded and assessed quite differently in Europe. From a romantic image of the "noble savage" to the stigma of a criminal, European researchers, travelers, and scientists reinterpreted the phenomenon again and again. At the same time, people from almost all walks of society – from laborers to nobility – were tattooed and pierced.

© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Eva Winkler
Holzskulptur, Yap, Mikronesien, Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden

[Translate to English:] text 2

The act of tattooing and piercing the skin is a global phenomenon that, using various local techniques – through the skin – transforms, protects, heals the body, or recalls memories and keeps them alive. The motifs and practice of piercing have spread globally, leading to the acquisition of new meanings as well as the rediscovery of ancient techniques.

Body art acts as a personal and intimate statement of affiliation, of coming of age or of coping with grief, and creates a bond under the skin of all wearers with each other: not only with those in Leipzig, but also with those in Samoa and Aotearoa / New Zealand, or in Congo, Brazil and Japan.

On the skin, through the skin, under the skin. Tattoos and piercings are a global phenomenon with local differences. In the first part of the exhibition series "Showtime!" the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig invited all interested parties to have pictures taken of their body art and to tell the personal stories behind the body art. The ensuing “living archive” reveals global similarities as well as local variations and examines the question of the importance of body art today in Saxony and what connects it with the world. 

[Translate to English:] link

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