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|Tattoos make their stamp on Athens
April 15, 2008 - Dominike Weaver
|A breathing ground for the arts, Technopolis, in Gazi, opened its doors onto an unconventional type of art last weekend: tattooing. The second annual Tattoo Convention set up studio for tattoo artists from Greece and around the world. “Coming to festivals is a good way to learn from other artists and enjoy their work,” said a tattoo artist of twelve years from Thessaloniki.|
Contests such as the Best Black, Grey Tattoo and Best Tribal Tattoo fired guests up to cheer in support of their favorite artists and tattoo shops. No limit was set on the number of tattoos each artist could enter into the contests. The judges awarded first and second prize for the Best Color Tattoo to G. Mavridis of the Tattooligans tattoo parlor in Thessaloniki. Vasso, of Eightball Tattoo Studio in Athens, came in third.
Stands turned building D12 into a maze of accessories, posters, jewelry and people getting tattooed. Bodies were on display like sculptures in a gallery while they were being worked on. The main attraction at this gallery was the Pili Mo’O Tatau corner. A man received his traditional Samoan tattoo while he lay on a bamboo mat, bags filled with beads resting under his leg to help him relax.
Full-body tattooing, which originated in Samoan culture, is a long and painful process. Once upon a time, the tattooing would take place in a ritualistic environment: chants and prayers would be recited. Today, of course, most people do not get their entire body tattooed in that traditional tribal style, but jjust a section of their body. Sulu’ Ape, a Tufuga (traditional tattooing master), kneeled above his client, pounding a wooden stick with a comb at the end to create thick lines in his leg. “I began tattooing the conventional way 15 years ago” he said. “In Tahiti 13 years ago, I met my master, who was willing to teach me Pili Mo’O.” With his master he learned all about Samoan culture, from how to cook, build houses, and speak the language, to how to tattoo traditionally. “I always wanted to do this,” he said. “It wasn’t about curiosity. I wanted to tattoo the real way, how it started.”