TATTOO Tales from the Mediterranean
28 March 2024 – 28 July 2024
Edited by Luisa Gnecchi Ruscone, with the collaboration of Jurate Francesca Piacenti
The exhibition aims to recount, from its earliest origins and with an anthropological slant that starts from Italy and the Mediterranean area, the history of tattooing, which according to many scholars constitutes the first gesture by which humans consciously differentiates themself from the animal world.
From prehistory to the contemporary era, the exhibition project is articulated and starting from evidence that goes far back in time to the Paleolithic (its practice is believed to be contemporary with gr affiti on cave walls); and over the millennia it has gradually taken on different meanings and functions: one was tattooed to declare one’s rank or spiritual affiliation, for religious devotion, to prevent and cure diseases, to look more beautiful; one could be tattooed “by force,” as a slave or as a mark of dishonor.
Through the display of original artifacts or reproductions and projections of photographs and films, the exhibition will cover more than seven thousand years of human history: starting with Ötzi, the oldest tattooed man whose body has been found so far, and touching on current geopolitical events, with the tattoos, in Egypt, of Coptic crosses, or those of Coptic Kurdish women in Syrian refugee camps. But equally vast will be the geographical panorama, starting with the oldest artifacts found in the Mediterranean Basin.
Rudolf Franz Lehnert (1878-1948), Ernst Heinrich Landrock (1878-1966)
Dancer of the Ouled Nail tribe
Courtesy Tattoo Gian Maurizio Fercioni Museum, Milan
Early 20th century
Courtesy Cesare Lombroso Museum of Criminal Anthropology – University of Turin
Emma et Frank De Burgh
Charles Lévy (ed.)
Musée Carnavalet – Histoire de Paris, Parigi