Boston Ink: Bringing the Tattoo Drama to Puritans

"Untitled (Vestido Montez)" by Dr. Lakra (a.k.a. Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez)The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Purchased with funds provided by The Buddy Taub Foundation, Jill and Dennis Roach, Directors

You can’t deny the power of tattoos. The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston has dedicated an entire show to the art of the tattoo. Well, more specifically, the art of Dr. Lakra, a pseudonym for Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez, an artist and tattooist whose tattoo inspired art disguises the barely clothed bodies of figures taken out of photographs, advertisements, Japanese prints and even vintage pornographic magazines.

Remember back in high school, instead of paying attention in algebra or history class we doodled all over our books, drawing mustaches on every photograph of a person we came across? Most of the art in the Dr. Lakra exhibition recalls just that, doodles we all made in high school.

The art works in the show engulf the viewer with an almost disturbing, Freudian like embrace, capturing their attention and establishing a direct connection between tattoos and the image which they cover.

Images of eroticism and hyper sexuality are dispersed throughout show, to emphasize the fetishistic nature attached to tattoos.  Let’s face it, getting a tattoo is a liberating and exhilarating experience, it is a form of self expression which brings out the bad boy or girl in you.  Tattoos are badass. They make you want to bite your lips every time you see an attractive person on the street or at your gym with well executed tattoos adorning their sculpted bodies. And boy, are there bad ass girls in the Dr. Lakra exhibition? The objectification of women is undeniably present in this show which I found a bit unsettling, but Dr. Lakra also brings out the notion that tattoos act as band-aids which we use to cover our insecurities and improve our self-esteem.

The Dr. Lakra exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art could be the push the contemporary art scene in Boston needs to break away from the puritanical roots that have suffocated it for decades. If the exhibition inspires you to get a tattoo, kudos to the Institute of Contemporary Art for pushing the envelope and getting you to get other people to bite their lips when they see ink adorning your body.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Monique says:

    Thank you so much for this article! Is this exhibition still around?

    1. Anulfo says:

      Hi, the exhibition is on view until September 6th, 2010.

  2. april-ann lopez says:

    I can’t relate to the message of a tatoo on the body, because I know someone with a tatoo who does hide behind it, an example of hiding feelings and emotions, I often call him “mister ice” and I’m referred to the name of “drama queen” because I show to much emotion and love and concern for the one who gave me that name, but that’s where the problem is, for me his lack of expression and communication is a problem everything else is fine, but it makes you feel like the other person your with that lacks emotion & expression ! Which is what he shows me “numbness” and I’m not at all num ,actually I’m very far from it, but your afraid to express yourself with that person with the tattoo, which he should have just put on his heart like what you call a “band-aid” because I can’t seem to find his heart in 3 years!

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