TATTOO ART | Interview by Kate Black

What is real_? Julim Rosa

''Do what you need to feel at home in your body''. That was her message, one year ago, after standing half-naked inside a Gallery window display in Berlin, covering her body with stencil tattoos. How she kept spreading her thoughts and questions during a very unexpected year? What is her main inspiration? Read all about Julim and her glitched universe.

Q: What would you say are the 3 most important topics that you want to address as an artist?

I feel like the topics that I address in my practice evolve and change with time, but at the same time there's some core ideas that transcend the almost 15 years I've been producing art. If I had to pick 3 they would be reality, permanence and the questioning of convention.

Q: What does the word "distortion" means to you Julim? How did it end up being the focal point of your tattoo style?

Distorting a concept, for me, is a way of exploring it. I use distortion to explore what's the meaning of TIME, REALITY, GENDER, NORMALITY or PERMANENCE, for example.

It allows me to grab a word and softly make it go through waves, radically glitch it, break it into geometric shapes, or even distort it until the legibility is gone and it turned into a completely abstract composition.

Through distortion I ask questions. I interact with the concept, challenge it's conventional meaning and explore how it makes me feel.

I think it ended up being a distinctive point in my tattoo practice because other people connected to this idea of questioning, and having their own take, their own experience with this process. I help humans create their own personal distortion of a concept and then get it tattooed tailored to their particular body.

Q: I am really interested to know more about your performative work. It is not something that you see often when it comes to tattoo artistry.

Tattooing appeared in my life around 10 years ago, in a kind-of performative way. Back in Buenos Aires I shared an atelier with a friend and one summer we decided to build a tattoo machine from a tutorial we found online. Using a hair dryer motor, a button, a fork, a pen and a guitar string we built this DIY machine and tattooed each other. This kind of fell into my bigger art exploration, but then I got so fascinated by the permanence and intensity of the tattoo practice that I decided I wanted to really learn it and do it professionally.

It was like learning a new media and I fell so deeply in love with it, but art and being a creative person came first, as I know it happened to so many other humans who were artists before tattooing. Maybe every tattoo I do is, in some way, a piece in collaboration with the human that receives it.

Q: Do you think that there is a discrimination against women's bodies, bodies with tattoos or bodies in general that you wanted to address with your performance "Never too much"? I know the answer is probably all 3 but I am curious to see which inspired you most in your performance and why.

The performance was inspired by a personal experience of walking around Berlin wearing shorts on one of the first days of summer. I felt so observed. Strangers were making comments about my appearance.

This was like a shortcut in my brain to the years I lived in Latin America, where woman and gender non conforming people are constantly harassed, oppressed, discriminated, judged and killed. I remembered feeling so much shame, guilt, sadness. So at this point I decided I wanted to make a statement and take it to the extreme.

I did a performance in the window of a gallery, where I was standing naked for 1 hour, and all I was doing was covering my body completely with tattoo stencils. I felt really exposed, but also super empowered.

It felt like asking society "What happens when I transcend the limits of what you expect from me? Who determines what is "right" and "acceptable" when we are talking about my body?

It happened in Berlin but I was streaming it on Instagram Live to the rest of the world. The action ended with the message "Do what you need to feel at home in YOUR body".

Q: In one of your latest projects, you made a public question on Instagram and was interested in what people have been questioning since the pandemic. What are your personal thoughts on the distorted word CERTAINTY and what is the message you're giving?

During the last lockdown (the one that started in Nov 2020), tattoo studios had to close again so I started working with street posters as a media. I did a project that was very simple and using just the resources that I had available: I would distort a concept, print 9 A4 pages in my home printer, stick them togehter, walk around my neighbourhood and paste this poster somewhere.

It was my way of communicating with the outside world during confinement, of having a voice and putting a question out there.

The first poster was CERTAINTY, just because since the pandemic started, all my "certainties" completely glitched and melted, so that's exactly what I did, graphically, to the word. Pasting the poster in the streets felt so good, it gave me this small adrenaline rush that my lockdown reality was completely missing, and many people reacted saying that they could relate to the idea of certainty distorting, so at that point I decided to open the game and openly ask on Instagram: What concepts/ideas have you been questioning since the new reality?

I wanted to work with the collective experience, given the fact that this pandemic challenged us all, and it was beautiful how people from all over the globe where having similar questionings and ideas - Asking ourselves what FREEDOM means, learning how every PLAN we had changed, questioning what SOLID means when everything feels like falling. It was like "Hey, reality is falling apart, but at least we are all in the same boat together!"

Now 6 of these posters designs have been properly printed and they are available in my online shop. I offer to send 1 extra poster completely free of charge to anyone who wants to paste it in their own neighbourhood!

QUEER ART | Jude Vadée

The Myth of Androgynous

This series was named after the myth of androgynous: the original being in greek mythology had two heads, four arms, four legs and two sexes, before being separated by the wrath of god. This creature represents the coexistence of opposites, the feminine and masculine, complete and perfect. These photos explore this myth from a post-gender perspective and rethink this duality and binary, and the ideal of 'other half'. They draw a cartography of relationships where the connections are materialized through chains.

My work revolves around queer experience and is rooted in writings of gender studies. Reading Preciado, Feinberg and Wittig and seeing the work of artists such as Claude Cahun, Mapplethorpe, and Catherine Opie has been a huge influence on my practice.

My images explore notions of gender, performance, relationship, in a raw and intimate way.

I'm especially interested in the representation of queer people throughout western history. How have they been represented or self represented, how have their body been depicted, how did they occupy space? The use of visual metaphors in painting, photography and images in general, have always fascinated me.

Being part of the queer community myself, I take photos of people around me. Photography appears to me as a mean to explore individual and collective identity.


The Cosmic Tree

"Never believe that you are anything other than what it might appear to others that what you were or could have been was anything other than what you were that it would appear to them to be something else." Lewis Carroll

Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated by the dimension of fairytales and myths. They have allowed me and still allow me to enter adimension without space or time where I can let my imagination run free and create.

As a photographer I try to reconcile the inner world with the outer one, selecting portions of images, old photographs, letters and objects to transform them into stories, suggestions and revelations.

At the basis of my process is the need to travel and explore places, countries, people, combining a sociological and anthropological study with the fairy tale.

In my artistic research there is always a glance at the natural world, especially at the bond I have always felt with trees, thanks above all to a reading that literally opened up a world to me: "Mythology of Trees" by Jacques Brosse, in which the author focuses on the theme of deforestation but from the point of view of the cultural heritage that is lost by destroying them, reconstructing this lost world by collecting stories and traditions from various cultures.
I am very fascinated by the cultures of northern and eastern Europe. In these places I feel pervaded by a fairy-tale universe and it is in fact from a first stay in Sweden which lasted about a year that the "Alice" project was born. That is where the story of the fairy tale of Alice in Wonderland, taken from Lewis Carrol, is reinterpreted in a Nordic key through the story of a journey between dream and reality, driven by the desire to reach "The Cosmic Tree", the birch tree that is the archetype of the myths of Nordicculture, an initiatory journey to the centre of the earth. A voice accompanies her when she wakes up:
''Wake up Alice... you have slept for an incredibly long time.'' Lewis Carrol