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INTERVIEW WITH CURATOR VIOLA FROM HELL BETWEEN, BY MAXIME BUCHI, EDITED BY BEN PERDUE
Q. Who are you, what is your background?
Hello Maxime, my name is viola von hell, I’m a tattoo artist from Rome, working with several Italian studios from northern to central Italy. I come from a graphics and special effects background. Five years ago I decided to take a turn in my life and started tattooing. I felt the urge to experience something permanent and meaningful, especially in a society where everything is disposable. I was trying to become an independent and free woman, like the ones who worked in circuses during the Depression era. They showed their tattoos in order to express themselves and gain independence.
Q. How did you come up with such an idea?
It has always been clear to me that in Italy there are many female tattooers. I have also noticed how much effort it takes to be a tattooer, with lots of travel and continous research. So I said to myself: “why don’t we combine the efforts of each one in a project that can make our artistic skills known?”
I was thinking about this for months, I was very undecided, then I began looking for interested participants. At the same time I asked my colleagues what they thought about the idea of a group of female tattooers that constitutes an art exhibition. Everyone answered, a bit surprised, that nobody had ever made a show like this in Italy. So I contacted Margherita Baleni, editor of Tattoo Life and Tattoo Italia, and she immediately supported the project and also offered to write a piece about this venture.
We had to find a theme that had not yet been used and that would be exciting to every artist. So I decided to combine the sacred and the profane and create the project The Holy Sinners, to join the devil and holy water.
Who were the Saints? They were women who sacrificed themselves for their beliefs, who suffered tortures and torments in order not to give up that belief. Like us, like female tattooers today, struggling for our dreams and goals. Tattooers perhaps are a mix of effort and sin, so the theme of this art exibition was born. I have also had the pleasure of involving Luisa Gnecchi Rusconi, the famous Italian anthropologist – and wife of famous tattoo artist Gian Maurizio Fercioni – who has written books about tattoo culture.
Q. How do you perceive the evolution of women’s status in the world of tattooing?
I think that women represent an important part of the tattoo world. It is only a matter of time for our future affirmation. We belong to a group that is growing steadily, and we have more and more courage to claim our piece of the pie. We should keep in mind that women work in a different way than men and that this is very interesting. We have a different approach to tattoos and tattooing.
Q. Who are the people you choose?
I choose Italian artists who live in Italy and abroad, and who are active at international conventions, like Miss Arianna, Claudia de Sabe, Genziana, and young newcomers who have fresh perspectives.
Q. How did you select them?
Creating a list of Italian artists was not an easy task because I had to end up with a small number of women and girls, and I hade to take into account experience, skills and developmental ability. But I ended up with a number of interesting tattooers. I wanted to create a group of artists that together represents all the styles of the tattoo industry. Artists who use methods of expression like Realistic, Japanese traditional, Chicano and American traditional.
Q. What is the concept of the show, what will we see there?
The concept of the exhibition is to claim the specificity of female tattooing, the Italian scene, and create cohesion, exchange and collaboration between the artists.
The exhibition will open in Milan on February 28th and run until March 4th – with an event during Fashion Week -before moving to the Mondo Bizzarro art gallery from March 26th to April 14th. After that it will be travelling to other Italian cities.
Q. What is your personal opinion on contemporary tattoo culture?
The tattoo world today has lost some of the values from a time past. There are many people amongst us who tattoo only to achieve fame and fortune. But I trust in the fact that there are still those – even if they are modern tattooers – who firmly believe in values inherited from old school tattooers; values such as respect, devotion and loyalty for what you love and for tattoos.