Sunday, 8 March 2009

Russian Criminal Tattoos

Time Out's review (below) of this small photo exhibition (9 photos only) was more exciting than the exhibition itself. Still, was interesting, and did not know that there is Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia. (more on the Encyclopedia - Unzipped)

"Subtitled Bodies as Text, this exhibition consists of black and white photographs by Sergei Vasiliev taken to accompany thousands of drawings of prisoners' tattoos compiled between 1948 and 2005 by ethnographer and fellow prison warden Danzig Baldaev. The tattoos, coded symbols and illustrations created with inks made from soot, sugar, ashes and urine, are sometimes are applied forcibly by one inmate to another. They denote the prisoners' crimes and political allegiances and their rank in the prison hierarchy and, recognising the usefulness of Baldaev's research, the KGB supported its supplementation and authentication by Vasiliev's pictures. The illustrations and photographs have been compiled by publisher Fuel in the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia."