International Study Conference: Tattoo Iconologies

Event Date: December 1, 2017

International Study Conference: Tattoo Iconologies

1-2 December 2017, Palermo, Italy

The contemporary practice of tattooing is globally diffuse. From being a marginal anti-language, writing on the body has revealed itself as a globalized trend. While tattooing initially may have been a niche occurrence, being rather a minority practice, today its popularity confirms its normalization, hardly a trivialization: in 2015, about 30% of people in the United States, and 13% (which means more than seven millions) in Italy are tattooed. As for all the massive trends, not performing any tattoo begins to be an effective tendency as well, and is thereby facilitating its objectification.

Several Humanities have been dealing with this phenomenon, especially Criminal and Cultural Anthropology in their constitutive weavings with Sociology, Folklore Studies, Image Theory, Literary History and Cultural Studies, and – not least – Semiotics, that is Sense and Sign theory.

The issue of individual and collective identities, which involve the processes of building, transforming and denigrating the sign, flooding from somatic into social (and vice versa), however, only partially coincide with that related to the writing of the body. The practice of tattooing produces traditions – even invented – and translations beyond the strictly ethnic dimension, involving, today more than ever, the aesthetic dimension, i.e. sensory and somatic, but also visual, vestimentary, ultra-vestimentary and artistic factors.

The semiotic outlook, redoubling the plans of the problem (expression / content), allows not only to interpret its many anthropological paths but also the places where, while blocking, these same paths tend to institutionalize or, alternatively, dissolve, proposing original and ‘creative’ solutions. On the one hand, the body, stuck among suffered pains and sought aches, tends to become other-than-self, metaphorizing itself (What analogies do consequently exist between tattoo and street art, between tattooing and marking, between tattoo and branding or anti-branding?). [more]