“We live in a society that causes severe episodes of amnesia. Our consciousness of injustice, compassion, empathy is not as present as it should. That is why I was looking for a way to keep my consciousness flow, not to forget, not even for a second.”
Looking into glossy tattoo magazines, crested on the cover with half-naked chicks and following throughout a sole aesthetically pleasuring agenda, any observer of the contemporary tattoo scene could come to the conclusion, that the field is totally apolitical. But as soon as this plastic ashtray of the industry is brushed away, there is much more to discover than the superficial eye could see from the outside.
“I am an artivist and an artivist “uses his/her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression – by any medium necessary”, as artivist M.K. Asante said. I do believe that tattoos are a very important medium for artivism.”
Alfredo Meschi is one of the most well known representatives of a political agenda in the tattoo scene. Being rooted in the anti-speciesism movement, which fights for animal rights and against the exploitation of any living being for food, clothing or other entertainment, the so-called artivist decided to engrave this mindset under his skin. Not only as an inscription, but as an individual and continuous reminder of the suffering within every passing second:
“Every second counts, because in this short amount of time 40.000 “non human souls” are killed to satisfy our appetite. My aim was to freeze this second or, even better, “keep it pulsing on my skin” to be always aware.”
As quoted in the beginning, Alfredo believes, that tattooing can be used as a tool for political activism. As art always has been an expression of ideology or mindsets and a constant part of social movements, it is no surprise, that also tattooing goes along this way since centuries. According to Alfredo, subcutaneous ink can become a “nonviolent weapon” like a painting, photography and other methods of Fine Arts. With that approach, the imagery of political movements could possibly win another great way to empower their participants and to inscribe their memoranda permanently in the form of subcutaneous ink. Resembled by the permanence of the tattoo, most serious activists consecrate themselves to their political struggle for a lifetime.
Since tattooing became such a commercial trend, its presentation and related media got at the same time commercialized to suit the relation between capitalistic demand and supply. Therefore, the mainstream itself may not be political in any way, but surely, the imagery itself can raise awareness for campaigns of social and environmental struggles. The attention of the general public could be used to bring political issues to the table.
“Consider, that although I am not skilled in web or digital fields, my 40,000 X tattoo for Animal Liberation has already reached several hundred-thousand people.”
Alfredo himself discovered the power of tattooing, when he started to get great attention for his body project. He has been invited to numerous conventions and his story has been covered in several magazines. With this presence, Alfredo managed to create awareness for the exploitation and suffering of an endless number of living beings – every second and with every look.
After biting the bullet for years and years of seeing the scene becoming more plastic, more commercial and more capitalistic, it seems to be the right time to conquer tattooing again as a tool for individual liberation and political agendas. Following the example of Alfredo, there is much more to win and create than only a look:
“So, let us all do that!“