Part of Becoming an Art Star is Finding the Right Publicty Vehicle;
Wim Delvoye Found His with Tattoos and Pigs
NPR covers the controversy at ShContemporary over Delvoye’s tattooed pigs and shows some of the artist’s even more controversial tattoo works:
Instead, Delvoye is putting on display a Swiss man named Tim Steiner, whose back Delvoye has tattooed with a scene featuring the Virgin Mary.
Delvoye says the scene is an atlas of what “tattoo” represents. “They are the favorites of the tattoo world,” Delvoye says. “There is the praying Virgin, there is the skull, roses. We have bats, we have birds, and two Chinese children riding koi carps.”
Steiner spent 35 hours being tattooed and had no choice in the scenes inked onto his body.
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The tattoo on Steiner’s back has been sold for almost $215,000 to a collector who has the right to remove it after he dies. Delvoye says bluntly that this is one yardstick that makes the tattoo an artwork, rather than just another tattoo.
“It’s art because it got sold,” Delvoye says.
Steiner is contractually bound to display his tattooed back at various events and functions, including ShContemporary, where he sits on a stool facing a wall so people can marvel at his back. He is a living canvas whose back will live on as artwork after his death, yet he denies that the concept is macabre.
“If the project finishes the way it should, and the skin will be removed and properly framed, then I will exist forever, at least a part of me will, and I find that concept more exciting than morbid,” Steiner says.
Pigs Out, But Artist Sells Tattoo Off Man’s Back (National Public Radio)