Jewess Tattooess



This was a multimedia live art/theatre solo work that explored the Jewish taboo against body art, looking at the cultural and religious implications of a Jewess who chooses to become heavily tattooed.

‘Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord’ (Lev 19.27-28)

Jewess Tattooess examined Jewish superstition, religious rituals and symbols to create a performance language that combined actions and movement, film and video, live performance video projections, original electronic sound and music, installation, fairground illusions and storytelling. This show also incorporated the action of live tattooing the Star of David on to the artist’s flesh.

During the Holocaust the Nazis tattooed the arms and stomachs of millions of Jewish peoples incarcerated in the Concentration Camps. This specifically and deliberately contravened Jewish law as proscribed in the Torah. The work drew on images and stories from Biblical myths and Jewish Folktales from the Dybukk, the Golem, The Whore Of Babylon and the Demon Lilith. It explored historical archetypes of the Wandering Jew, the Jew as Nomad and Outsider and the Jewish Diaspora. It referenced images of traditional tattooed ladies as exhibits in sideshows and fairground art. Comprising of a series of images, tableaux vivant, short stories, visual illusions and video projection, the tapestry of forms reflects the tattooed woman’s physical body: a body of pictures and symbols; archetypes; living illustrations of memories, dreams, nightmares and ghosts.

“Enchanted and personal, beautiful penny dreadful horror.”

Mary Brennan, Glasgow Herald

Filmmaker – Alison Murray

Composers – Dave Knight, Katherine Gifford & James Johnson


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