Whitehot Magazine

January 2008, Tattoo You, Perry Rubenstein Gallery

Installation view, Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York
photo: Pierre Francillion

Tattoo You

by Daniel J. Kramer, WM New York

In 2005 Lina Bertucci was invited to photograph a rockabilly convention. Her two favorite subjects were women that were heavily tattooed. These pictures became the blueprint for the ‘Women in the Tattoo Subculture’ show that is currently being exhibited at the Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York.

She loved these pictures, but didn’t know what to do with them. They just sat in her studio for a long time. Photographs went up and down in her Manhattan studio, but these ones remained. People came in and out and everyone commentated on how unique these portraits were and she knew she had to create more.

A Friend of Lina’s was getting a large tattoo at Rising Dragon next to the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. She went along in hopes of meeting women to photograph. This is where she came across Louisa Mandroy who works there part-time.

“I walked into the shop one day and Lina started to tell me about how she trying to get photographs of people with tattoos for an art show she was doing. She showed me some of the pictures of what she was doing and asked me if I would be interested in taking part.”

Lina Bertucci, photo by Pierre Francillion for WM

Louisa was one of the first women photographed. Lina dove into the world of tattooing and spend the next few years attending various conventions and searching high and low for women that fit her criteria. One tattoo was not enough. She was after women who used their skin as canvas to create beautiful works of art.

“I like how tattoos look on women. I really like that relationship of how the tattoo completes their whole persona and how it fits with their body. I was really looking for women that took care in cultivating and collecting their art work.”

Dolly met Lina though a mutual friend. By day Dolly is a lawyer with a specialty in business development in the corporate world of New York and by night she lives in the subculture of tattoos and burlesque.

“I have been a part of many exhibitions, from tattoos conventions, tattoo magazines. What I like about this is that its not pictures of twenty beautiful women with one crappy tattoo, its more of an honor to be apart of something that shows real people of all ages from different walks of life”

An image from the exhibition Women in the Tattoo Subculture @ Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York

It is impossible to compare the images of ‘Women in the Tattoo Subculture’ to those seen in magazines like Skin & Ink. Theses are confrontational portraits of women who are choosing to exclude themselves from mainstream culture. What really makes these portraits stand out is the way the women are photographed. Lina used one light source against a dark background and it makes the women seem to pop out at you. Most importantly were the subjects she chose.

What impressed me so much was how much care and love these women put into their tattoos. I felt inspired that they could have that relationship with their body. I keep thinking maybe I will get a tattoo, its contagious”


Daniel J. Kramer

Daniel J. Kramer is a writer in New York.

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