Results tagged “Shannon Larratt”
Photo courtesy of Modblog.
Yesterday, the body modification community lost a leader. Shannon Larratt, founder of BMEzine.com -- the first definitive online publication and community for those who decorate and alter our bodies -- died, as I've learned from other friends and BME's Modblog and Shannon's final post on Zentastic.com.
This is an incredibly hard post for me to write. Shannon was not just a friend, but he changed my life in many ways. He taught me to open my eyes to see the beauty in all forms of personal artistic expression, not just with tattoos and piercings, but with scarification, suspension, saline injections, skin sewing ... a myriad of modifications that has the masses laughing and pointing at the freaks.
BMEzine and the IAM community -- a pre-Facebook home and townhall -- was like the island of misfit toys, where we "freaks" could all share our experiences, our kinks, art, and random thoughts in a safe online environment and feel comforted that there were others out there who got it. One of the great changes to my life is the incredible and plentiful friendships that sprang from IAM. I am forever grateful for this.
Another great impact was being immersed in the online community through BME, and it's reflective discourse, that led to me to truly explore legal issues within body modification. Shannon encouraged me to pursue research into tattoo law and offered me a forum with my Legal Link column to share my thoughts and get feedback on how the law affected modified people around the world. So many shared their passions and personal stories. These discussions were the hallmark of BME.
Shannon notes the importance of this sharing in his final post:
For a long time the body modification community, while deeply isolated from the mainstream in a way that may be hard for younger people today to really relate to, had a wonderful sense of solidarity -- a sense that we're all in this together, a sense of all supporting each other's personal paths, from the subtle to the extreme -- but now it feels like there's infighting and intra-community prejudice. We once all worked together to better ourselves and share our experiences -- for example the creation of BME's various knowledge-bases (birthed from the earlier Usenet FAQs) that brought the world level-headed accurate information on modifications and their risks, as well as the thousands of detailed "experiences" that people wrote -- whereas now it seems like the majority of modification media is just about posting pictures, devoid of any real stories or information, reducing them to visual pornography for people to "cheer and jeer" at. All of these changes have slowly eaten away at the character of the body modification community and changed it in subtle and unpleasant ways. I do think this is a fixable problem though, and I have talked to many, many wonderful people (both artists and enthusiasts) who have a strong passion for body modification that I am sure could be part of a restoration effort. I truly hope they will fight to keep changing the world for the better.Recently, Shannon and I talked at length about the "cheer & jeer" of body modifications. I disagreed with a lot of his support for dangerous procedures, and he would remind me to be careful not to create "anti-mod media" in my criticism of such (and other issues in tattooing). Our debates were exactly what you'd want a debate to be: respectful, informing and even mind-changing.
In discussing Shannon as the ultimate cheerleader of people's adornment and body morphing, my friend Julien said it best, "He trusted people to do right by themselves." Shannon had faith in people, especially people for whom society treated with little respect. He understood it because he lived it. Even in his last post, he discusses how he was not given the proper pain management for his chronic illness because doctors looked at him and thought he was just a drug addict. His life was dedicated to changing this prejudice and offering support to all of us who have faced so much discrimination because of the way we look.
I could probably write a million more words on Shannon's lasting effect on my life and on so many others. But I'll just end by affirming that Shannon's legacy will live on, and in honor of him, let us express love for each other even more so and make our own positive impact on the world.
UPDATE: Read Shawn Porter's wonderful tribute to Shannon
Feel free to share your own Shannon stories on the Needles & Sins Facebook group page.
Today, Shannon of BMEzine posted on Modblog the story behind the facial tattoo of Lesya, a beautiful young woman from Russia who radically altered her appearance by having her new lover tattoo his name across her face.
This naturally went viral -- just like the story of the girl with 56 stars tattooed on her face in 2009. Both of these women have something in common. Both were tattooed by the same man: Rouslan Toumaniantz.
Tattooing, in many forms, can elicit a reaction from a viewer, positive or negative, in different ways. Facial tattoos often attract the strongest of reactions. The reactions to Lesya's tattoo are the strongest of the strong, and naturally so, particularly in light of the back story, which Shannon offers in his post. Here's a bit from it:
About a month ago, Rouslan Toumaniantz, a well known and sometimes notorious Belgium-based tattoo artist (of Tattoo Box in Kortrijk), and Lesya, a designer living at the time in Saransk, a city in central Russia started talking via chat (Rouslan speaks fluent Russian) and realized they had a lot in common, and quickly began falling head over heels in love. About a week ago they met in person in Moscow and decided to get married -- their plans for their life together include her learning to tattoo (Rouslan tells me she's already a talented artist), apprenticing under her husband-to-be, while she also gets the full-body ink that she's always dreamed of (biomech is the current plan) -- and of course a family.Read more of the post and see additional photos here.
As you can see from the nude photo of Lesya and Rouslan on Modblog, the facial tattoo is the only major body modification she has. This has also fueled the controversy surrounding it.
So you have two camps: the cheers and the jeers.
Shannon notes interesting downfalls, including the association with gangs like MS-13, who have prominent facial tattoos that are often stylized in a similar way. However, he places the focus on their "commitment to love" and how "sometimes the best decisions are the ones you make in an instant with your heart rather than the ones long-debated in your mind." Indeed, there have been many times where I've fully agreed with this latter statement. There are many times that I haven't. Which is why this is heartbreaking to me.
I don't want to be in the jeers crowd. Here is a young woman who is in love and this is the way she has chosen to show her commitment. I cannot muster my usual snobbery. But I also cannot suppress feelings of anger towards this new love of hers, Rouslan, who in the most brazen of ways, marked this girl, forever changing her life. I wonder if he will shoulder the full responsibility of this for the longevity of the tattoo. To me, this seems more like marking one's property, rather than caring or nurturing your bride to be.
I often flippantly say the old maxim, "You get the tattoo you deserve." But this is not true all the time. Sometimes, there's got to be someone who educates and guides, who keeps impulses in check, and acts ethically. I believe that tattooists should largely shoulder this responsibility when it comes to clients, especially young ones. And I most firmly believe this when the tattooist has an intimate connection to the one being tattooed.
Lesya's photo has been popping up all over Facebook today. Some postings are of the point-and-laugh variety, others have touted it as "inspiring" and "the ultimate" in body modification.
To me, the ultimate in body modification is a commitment to the best form of expression of the best of who you are. It's a shame that her expression belongs to that of another person.
I commend Shannon for taking a positive approach to this work and seeing the beauty in it. And I stand with him in wishing that they realize their dreams and proving skeptics like myself wrong.
I learned from Colin Dale this afternoon that ManWoman passed away peacefully this morning after a bout with terminal cancer. Manny was an artist and poet but best known for his work reclaiming the "gentle swastika." Manny was such a bright light, and while I'm saddened by the news, I also had to smile thinking of our brief time together and all the experiences he shared and giggles we had over them. He will be deeply missed by so many.
Shannon of BMEzine.com posted his tribute to ManWoman today and included this video below, in which Manny offers his "final thoughts" less than ten days ago. The whole video is beautiful but ends powerfully on these words:
Find the gift that is in you. You're in this world as a gift of god to this world, so get busy doing it!I'm on it, Manny!
For more on his thoughts about art, spirituality and the swastika, I'm posting my Q&A with ManWoman, which took place at the Traditional Tattoo and World Culture Festival in Ireland in 2010, and was published in the October 2010 issue of the UK's Total Tattoo magazine. Find it below the video (after the jump).
Interview with ManWoman ...
Yesterday, Complex Art + Design blog posted this video of Polish rapper and mixed martial arts fighter Popek getting his eyeballs tattooed. The video, beautifully produced by Will Robson-Scott, is graphic. There are close-ups of the needle going into the eye. But if you can get beyond that, it's fascinating to watch Popek explain why he's doing it ["I will be complete"], how he handles the process [smoking], the result [lots of hugs] and the healing process [pain "like putting cigarettes in your eyes"].
Howie/LunaCobra is the one tattooing Popek as he has done many times before. Howie first experimented with eyeball tattooing in 2007 on BMEzine founder Shannon Larratt, Pauly Unstoppable, and Josh. It was all documented on Modblog starting at this post.
In BME's Wiki page on "eyeball tattooing," it is noted that corneal tattooing is "known and done now for over 2,000 years -- it became almost commonplace in the late 19th century and into the 20th century to correct defects such as corneal scarring and leucomas." The procedures on Shannon, Pauly and Josh were not to correct any defects, but as an experiment in body modification. For Popek, he says he felt compelled to do it but cannot really articulate why (beyond any language barrier).
It's easy to point and jeer, "Look at the freaks!" And it's easy to cheer "Bod Mod FTW!" Neither helps any discourse on the seriousness of this procedure. There's little argument that eyeball tattooing could leave people blind, among other complications, and it's difficult to understand why one would take that risk at all. I'd love to see a full length documentary that explores this in some depth.
This morning I received an email from Shannon Larratt (founder and former owner of BME.com) regarding the use of his images -- as well as those from BME, tattoo artists' portfolios and even my own images -- without permission on TattooDonkey.com and TattooMeNow.com.
Read Shannon's FB post on how he's pursuing this.
The sites market themselves as vehicles to help people "find your tattoo design" and "the quickest and easiest way to find your dream tattoo." The problem is that the dream tattoo could be your own custom work. And we all know how I feel about tattoo copyright.
It does not appear that the use of the images on these sites falls under Fair Use -- for example, using an image to comment or critique a work; however, I've been unable to further explore the TattooMeNow.com site without a membership. It seems I have to pay to view my own work.
I've sent a request to TattooDonkey.com to take down my images from their site, and many others are doing the same. I've also emailed TattooMeNow.com to discuss this further. Will keep you updated.
It's perhaps fitting to also mention that I'm doing a seminar on "Copyright, Trademark & Licensing for Tattoo Artists & Collectors" in September at the Paradise Tattoo Gathering. More info here.