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Could this be magic? Tattooing as Liberation Work - Tamara Santibañez


'Tattooing can be transformative - a way to create a new version of yourself. A tattoo can be a  coping strategy, a manifesto, a bold declaration. Tattoos are armor. Being able to access these types of expression can make us feel more free as individuals, and affirms the values that bring us into ourselves. 

We do not tattoo in a void. We tattoo in a world that is governed by social forces and structural oppression. We cannot escape or ignore the lived experiences of ourselves or those who sit down to get work done. When we approach this responsibility with intention and clarity, we step into the ability to facilitate empowerment and healing. In providing an experience where a client is affirmed and treated with respect, we can interrupt the cycles of trauma that they live through in the world at large and work towards collective justice. We both mark and witness these moments for individuals, conjuring temporary autonomous zones and movement towards collective liberation.' 

Using the concept of trauma-informed care as a foundation, Santibañez expands on the vast political potential of tattooing, illuminating the unseen work tattoo artists perform without exception. Underpinning the infinite magic of tattooing is the emotional work that artists often come to fear and avoid. Santibañez argues that tattooing has enormous potential to both empower and disempower its recipients, and that we cannot fully realise its positive potential without first acknowledging the scope of what it accomplishes and supporting ourselves in our abilities and limitations.

Part manifesto, part love letter, part workbook, Could This Be Magic? features toolkit prompts and exercises, practical guidelines around good consent and boundary practices, and ideas for shaping a more ethical industry into the future. This work offers something to all artists from self-taught DIY tattooers to ritual practitioners, apprentices and longtime street shop veterans, from those newly engaging with activism to those who place politics at the forefront of their work. Sourcing quotes from artists from all walks of the industry, Could This Be Magic? is a profound exploration of the radical possibilities of justice-centered tattooing.

Afterlife Press, 2021
Softcover, 132pp
254 x 205 mm 

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