A Wayward Word's Worth

December 15, 2011

Tattoos of the Beijing Punk

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 10:09 am

Rock troupe Demerit merges inked skin and raw rhythms.  By Kyle Mullin for The Beijinger, Dec. 15 2011

Bold. Jarring. Colourful. Edgy enough to pierce your flesh – be it the pores on your bicep or your eardrums – punk rock and tattoos have much in common. Nowhere in the world have the two bled into each more murkily than China, where such art forms are now free flowing after years of clinching taboo. They both converge on Qingdao-born, Beijing based Spike (Li Yang), who has a sleeve of ink running up and down his arm. Those tattoos are easily visible as he darts across the stage while fronting his punk troupe Demerit, which will showcase that edgy ethos at Yugong Yishan on December 17.

“It looks different from ordinary people,” Spike says of the image overlapping in both punk and tattoo cultures, before summing that idea up in one breath: “Rebel peace.”

Unlike Westerners – for whom such trends are far too common – the kind of tattooed Bejingers that will mosh at Demerit’s show still raise many of their neighbours’ eyebrows. One of the world’s chief ink aficionados says that’s because many Chinese still have a very traditional attitude about the punk image.

“Until recently, most developed societies, including China, regarded tattooing as some form of perversion,” says Chris Wroblewski, a British photographer who has published 21 books full of his tattoo-themed pictures, including 2008’s China Tattoo. “[The idea of tattoos] sat uncomfortably with Confucianism, (which) pronounced against the desecration of the sacred body.”






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