Touching through calligraphy and tattoos: two exercises on human and animal bodies

Apostolos Lampropoulos

Punctum, 3(1): 76-93, 2017
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2017.0007

Abstract

During the last decades, touch has become the epicenter of serious critical attention and of various creative practices. Within this context, this paper revisits Peter Greenaway’s film The Pillow Book that explores calligraphic practices on human skin and Wim Delvoye’s artistic project Art Farm that consisted in the tattooing of pigs and their transforming into objects of art. Both of these works are articulated through writing taking place on the skin and consequently contact between humans or between humans and animals is established. Furthermore, a sense of uniqueness of the written body is developed, and the possibility of intimacy is renegotiated through writing on the palimpsest skin. The paper focuses on touch as a process of sharing (both in the sense of dividing and partaking of) and of the creation of intimacy. It aims to answer questions such as the following: what does it mean to touch someone through writing or through tattooing the skin? Under which conditions can one talk about intimacy? Who is receiving, hosting or excluding whom during, and through, the act of touching? What difference does it make to touch a human’s or an animal’s skin? When does touching come to an end and what are the consequences of un-touching? In a nutshell, this paper seeks to understand the multiple dynamics of touching as an act of separating, of coming together, and of creating a common space and an in-between.

KEYWORDS: touch, writing, intimacy, Peter Greenaway, Wim Delvoye
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