Tat­toos: La Marca

On Cuba - - CONTENTS - Sofía Gar­cía

Un­der the di­rec­tion of renowned artist Leo Canosa, and based in the His­toric Cen­ter of Old Havana, La Marca, the pro­fes­sional stu­dio­gallery of cor­po­ral art, has been func­tion­ing since Jan­uary 30, 2015 to po­si­tion on the is­land the mil­lenary art of tat­toos.

At La Marca, com­pared to other tat­too­ing stu­dios, they don’t work by cat­a­logue or im­i­ta­tion. Each per­son can have en­graved on their skin a unique work, ac­cord­ing to their in­ter­ests, per­son­al­ity and for­mal and con­cep­tual con­cerns, pre­vi­ously ap­pre­ci­at­ing the style of the artist who will carry out the work. Cor­po­ral dec­o­ra­tion, from the iden­tity and love for the so-called der­mic art, are rea­sons that in­spire go­ing to the place for one of these cre­ations.

Leo, with more than two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in the sweet pain of ink on the der­mis, now heads an­other four tat­too artists, a graphic de­signer and a so­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tor. Guest artists from Cuba and abroad at times dis­play their cre­ations at La Marca.

“We don’t want to be seen as pri­vate work­ers but rather as artists: that’s what we are. Tat­too­ing is no longer con­sid­ered a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of an­cient cul­tures, or a pass­ing fash­ion or an al­lu­sion to crim­i­nals, but above all as an art,” Leo says to OnCuba while he sketches a lion’s tooth com­ing out from the top of a young woman’s chest, pure dex­ter­ity with no other can­vas but the skin.

Leo doesn’t ex­actly know how many tat­toos he has on his body. He con­sid­ers that tat­too­ing is just a trade if what you do is re­pro­duce fig­ures based on a photo. Mak­ing a per­son­al­ized de­sign, a dif­fer­ent draw­ing for each in­di­vid­ual, that re­ally is art. “The idea is to make a ver­sion of a cer­tain pic­to­rial mo­tif giv­ing ex­pres­sion to your im­print and seal as an artist,” added the multi prizewin­ning cre­ator, who has spent half of his life “prick­ing,” as the ac­tion of per­ma­nently en­grav­ing the skin with ink stings is called in Cuba.

In ad­e­quate hy­gienic-san­i­tary con­di­tions, La Marca is also a cul­tural cen­ter that ex­plores the syn­ergy of tat­too­ing in the man­i­fes­ta­tions of the vis­ual arts, the­ater, dance, lit­er­a­ture, graphic de­sign and mu­sic, with a gen­der-based fo­cus and a broad vi­sion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and so­cial de­vel­op­ment.

Ex­hi­bi­tions and pre­sen­ta­tions by new young artists, con­certs and cre­ation work­shops de­signed for di­verse publics: chil­dren, young peo­ple and spe­cial­ists, among other ac­tions, all of them reg­u­larly bi­monthly, are hosted at La Marca. The of­fer is com­ple­mented with a crafts shop, but of limited edi­tions and with marked em­pha­sis on the de­sign and drive of the au­thor’s work. In ad­di­tion, it is linked to cul­tural events and projects or­ga­nized by other state-run or pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions, it pro­vides ad­vice and ac­com­pa­ni­ment to lo­cal projects, and its spa­ces are avail­able for work­shops and con­fer­ences. With a var­ied cul­tural pro­gram that is re­newed ev­ery month, with ex­hi­bi­tions as well as mu­si­cal and com­mu­nity pro­pos­als, La Marca aims to au­then­ti­cate the Cuban tat­too.

Link­ing tat­too­ing to all the artis­tic man­i­fes­ta­tions that have the body as sup­port or cen­ter, and le­git­imiz­ing this man­i­fes­ta­tion in the coun­try, where it is in­creas­ingly gain­ing more adepts, is the dayto-day work of this team of artists who with mem­o­rable ink marks cre­ate, be­tween lines and points, a sec­ond skin.

Photos (Fo­tos): Alain L. Gu­tiér­rez

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