"Tatoueurs, tatoués". Interview with the curators of the exhibition Anne & Julien

Extras - Issue 20

HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine visited the greatest and most profound tattoo exhibition until now, "Tatoueurs, tatoués" at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris. We also had the chance of meeting and interviewing the curators, Anne & Julien, who are also the founders of the highly respected art review HEY! modern art & pop culture. "Tatoueurs, tatoués" will be at the Quai Branly until the 18th of October 2015. Then the exhibition will travel to Toronto. 

Photos & interview by Ino Mei.

What lead you to the realization of the "Tatoueurs, tatoués" exhibition?

When you are involved with tattoo, it is clear that the last six – seven years, there has been great change in the field. It is very important for us to explain to people that have a bad knowledge of tattoo or no knowledge at all, what tattoo is. That tattoo is not a product. 

Nowadays, you either go and buy a tattoo or you go and get tattooed. "Tatoueurs, tatoués" shows people who want to buy a tattoo that tattoo is something deep and very serious.

It was highly important for us to do a very big exhibition to explain to people the history of tattoo, the great pioneers of tattoo as well as the great artists of tattoo. To show those who create the history of tattoo and will stay at the global (art) history, and also the outsiders, folk art and marginal art, and say, “here it is”! You can get tattooed like a footballer, but this is not tattoo. 

What is your aim with "Tatoueurs, tatoués"?

What we have done at the Quai Branly museum with "Tatoueurs, tatoués" is a milestone to start talking to very large audiences about tattoo and to fight the commercialization that it is currently facing and it is overall a menace to tattoo.

It is clear to us and to all serious tattooists that today there are two types – kinds of tattoo: the commercial tattoo (like you buy food – you buy tattoo) and the tattoo (when you search for your artists and for a more spiritual experience and encounter). 

I can say that we have achieved to defend the real tattoo.

How did people that had no idea about tattoo react after visiting your exhibition at the Quai Branly museum?

We received an enormous feedback. "Tatoueurs, tatoués" has become the biggest, so far, exhibition of the Quai Branly museum, and when the show ends at the 18th of October, it will go to Toronto (Canada). I think that it might actually do a world tour. This is a magnificent achievement, not just for us, but also for all the people that are seriously involved in the tattoo field.

How long time have you been working on the exhibition? 

Two and a half years of intense and enormous work, and for the research it took us about five years, as the research was very long. The whole process was very difficult. We also thought about it a lot, before saying yes to Quai Branly, because for us it is very important to give a sense of what we do, because we are not careerists and when we start a project we put 100% on it. I can say that the two and a half years of the preparation, I have aged ten years (eg. Anne says)! We are very involved in what we do. It is very serious and I would give my life for the artistic subjects that really touch me. "Tatoueurs, tatoués" was very difficult, but I feel truly awarded by the outcome. 

Where is the line between tattoo art and fine art?

All the tattooers are not artists. All the tattoo artists are not painters. But we have the knowledge and the clairvoyance to explain to people that tattoo has some really great artists that some of them are also pioneers.