Jewess Tattooess


‘Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord.’ (Leviticus 19: 27–28)

Jewess Tattooess is an interdisciplinary solo performance piece by live artist Marisa Carnesky exploring the Jewish taboo against tattooing in relation to the artist’s own Jewish cultural heritage. It examines Jewish superstition, folklore, religious rituals, and symbols to create a performance language that combines actions and movement, film and video, live performance video projections, original electronic sound and music, installation, fairground illusions and storytelling. It also incorporates an action of live tattooing.
During the Holocaust, the Nazis tattooed the arms and stomachs of millions of Jewish people incarcerated in the concentration camps. This act specifically and deliberately contravened Jewish law as proscribed in the Torah (note the above quotation). Jewess Tattooess explores the cultural and religious implications of a Jewish woman who, by choice, is heavily tattooed—tattooed not as a numbered victim, but as an autonomous individual.
The work draws on images of traditional tattooed ladies as exhibits in sideshows, Jewish folklore, fairy tales, and storytelling. It explores the historical archetypes of the Wandering Jew, the Jew as Nomad and Outsider, and the Jewish Diaspora.
The non-linear nature of the narrative reflects the tattooed woman’s physical body: a body of pictures and symbols; archetypes; living illustrations of memories, dreams, nightmares, and ghosts.

… »Carnesky’s voice and her body tell the many, interwoven, dramatic stories of those who both belong and do not belong, bringing into the open unresolved, and strikingly actual, conflicts of ownership, enforced identity and cultural displacement. At the same time, her voice and her body talk also of the freedom that the reclaiming of a shared experience bring to all the invisibles who transit through lands and through history; of the journey written in her own DNA, deeply in conversation with an history that is as much her own as common to many. … If Rapunzel is a sex-slave, forced to give up her body, her citizenship and her humanity, the Jewess Tattooess is like a magician purposefully reclaiming her captive soul through a bleeding star of David.« (Betti Marenko)

Devised and performed by: Marisa Carnesky; film: Alison Murray; soundtrack: Dave Knight, Katherine Gifford, James Johnson; lighting design: Rose Parnis; costume: Nicola Bowery; tattoo: Alex Binnie

In cooperation with: Cankarjev dom

Date and time of event: 
Oct 10th 22:00
Place of event: 
Cankarjev dom, Kosovelova dvorana