tattoos: a medium for oral storytelling
Tattoos have played a key role in India’s cultural traditions for thousands of years. They function as a medium for creating strong bonds with one’s culture, much like folktales and oral storytelling traditions do. Tattoos themselves tell stories, be it traditional pieces done in villages that symbolise tribal and communal historical events; or a modern machine tattoo done in a tattoo parlour that hold much personal significance for the wearer.
I am a tattoo artist, animator, and storyteller. The aim of this project is to merge the worlds of tattoos, animation and folktales and use tattoos as a complementary medium for oral storytelling.
This project has led to an animated loop of a tiger, the frames of which I have tattooed across different bodies. In exchange for the tattoo, the wearers told me a folktale related to a tiger that they grew up with, in their own mother tongue.
All the wearers and therefore the tattoos have now gone out into the world, each carrying a story within them. The hope is that even after the initial storytelling that occurred in the project space, every time the wearer is asked about why they got this tattoo (which is a common question for those who have tattoos), the story they told me will come up again, further propagating it into the world.
This animated loop is twenty-four frames in length, and this project has therefore collected 24 tiger stories from different parts of the country.