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Mar 05, 2012

Iconic Tattoos

Or tattoos of icons, anyway. We already have an image of an Iwo Jima flag raising tattoo on our images page, but this complementary portrait of World War II victory culture just turned up:


Tattoos are emblems of personal identity and of identification with collective symbols. They must mean a lot to some people, but what they mean remains a matter of interpretation, as the discussion here makes clear. The body in this photo obviously was born well after V-J Day, yet another example of how icons can be carried across generations.


Iconic Tattoos


9 Responses

  1. Erik J says

    What the tattoo omits is the spectators (which play important role in No Caption Needed‘s analysis of the image, if I remember) and, perhaps more telling RE: the particular media of the tat, the frame of the photograph. You guys mention how even in The Simpsons take on the image, the animation is frozen for a bit to make explicit the media of the photograph and the frame of the image. On this body, only the central figures (the icons within the icon) have been taken up and the frame has already began developing around is a cluster of other tattoos (most likely purchased and inked across a lifetime, by different artists, in different styles, in different cities, in different moods, etc.). . . . As well as the actual corporal frame of the person’s figure (a figure framing these figures), I guess.

  2. Erik J says

    Oh, and the person is wearing a camo jacket, too; so that’s another layer that appropriates military aesthetic.

  3. Hariman says

    Erik: you are picking up a lot of key details and also making good use of our book. There is some kind of transmutation of the public character of the iconic image here. Taking out the signs of the public, replacing the photographic frame with the contour of the body, and making the image into something that can be revealed or conceealed at the discretion of the individual would all seem to make the display more private than public. But private and public need not be opposites (Michael Warner makes this point well in the first chapter of Publics and Counterpublics), and surely putting the iconic image rather than more idiosyncratic designs on one’s body and to that scale would seem to project everyone into a public frame of reference. One difference there may be in what is being highlighted. Taking the spectators out of the picture and reframing this kiss with a young body makes the image much more an evocation of romance than of celebration. The key effect may be an appropriation of nostalgia: this somewhat transgressive body wants to be taken, but in a romantic swoon not likely to be so available today. How this could be inflected further within the culture of body art, I can’t say.

  4. breanna says

    KAY!! I’m in love with this tattoo. i cant even really explaine it.. all i know is that i belong in the 50’s.. and this just ah.. haha its amazing your one lucky girl to have it done.

  5. Chasity says

    -this tattoo is adorable…but why in the (hell) would somone want to get some shit like that…it’s like your wasting your body…on something like that when you could get something…way cuttier. wtw.

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