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about my skin


"J'ai dédié ce poème à la memoire de mon ami Maurice Pilorge dont le corps et le visage radieux hantent mes nuits sans sommeil" – Jean Genet.


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A twenty-four years old thief condemned to death and a poet who loved him until the day of his execution both live on my skin. They will be there forever, so long as I have a body.

These are words, the words of Le Condamné à Mort by Jean Genet, tattoo words that appear over time on my skin. They are words marked in permanent ink that take a body, while the body that carries them becomes a text.

A body-text or a text-body.

The words on the body-text become something else.

They are subject to the rules of space and time, and suffer movement and change. Folds, grooves, curves, imperfections that imply letters, accents and punctuation marks. The text-body moves, walks, bends over, kneels, crawls,sits, lay down and develops in each moment within space and in each moment undergoes the change of time. It ages, alters, fades, becomes dirtied, tanned, ill. It is possible to hit and injure this text-body. It is possible to make it bleed, to cure it, to clean it, to dry it, to caress it, to kiss it, to lick it. It is possible to make love with a poem by Jean Genet.

It is possible to read the rhymes of the skin. It is possible to follow the verse with a finger, between a wrinkle and a freckle.

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It is not simply "wearing" an inscription, or "communicating" an idea by writing it with a pen on an arm or a belly that can later be erased when the emotion it generates has vanished. It is not about casting out words like passing clouds.

Having a poem tattooed on your own skin means that you yourself become that poem and being a poem opens a door that lets the text into the intimacy of your daily life. It becomes a membrane upon which others cannot help but gaze, read, consider and imagine. On the skin of the body-text, the word transforms the body. It becomes a long story, a chain of events. Every centimeter of skin has a meaning, has a sense, hides a secret, calls up the emotion written in that single word.

It is not choosing a decoration. It is choosing to incarnate a precise text, a precise range of emotions, a narrative flow, events that happened elsewhere that now occur between the shoulder blade and the spine of your own body.

A body-text, a text-body: I become a story of love and passion, of sex and grace, of death and salvation.


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about my skin, 2011.

Pigment print on paper, cm 20x20, (edition of 5).

Text by azt (from the catalog of "Am Ende war das Wort", Ursula Blickle Stiftung, 2011).