Since the 80’s Dutch photographer Ralf Mitsch has been fascinated by what lays behind the people who are heavily tattooed. What motivated them, what role do the tattoos play in their particular life or even their vision on the world? With his on-going series ‘Why I Love Tattoos’ the photographer has been asking these questions through his lens for many years, and last month the project resulted in the first printed publication. The book, which was released in May and will have its official launch on the 15th of June in the Amsterdam-based NAME Gallery, the spectator is offered a selection of subjects which Mitsch has had before his lens, to find out about the stories behind that Maori tribal design, traditional Japanese body tattoo or a collection of smaller tattoos totally filling one’s arm or leg. The book contains more than 50 beautiful, full-page portraits of people from all over the globe who have visited the photographer’s studio through the years. Each photographed tells a personal story of the hidden truth behind their tattoos, plus features a short interview by (heavily tattooed) author and journalist Henk van Straten, who’s also one of the subjects featured in the book.
After Ralf Mitsch photographed Holger (who therefore became the cover photograph) at the very start of his project, many quickly followed, as at that time the subculture was a lot smaller and word of mouth did its work very fast. Over the years this changed significantly and tattoos now a days moved way beyond being a subcultural asset to the runways of mainstream fashion. That doesn’t mean the photographer has lost his respect for his subjects, which he intended to reflect in the style of photographing, as pure as possible without any fashionable theatrical lightning.
The design of the book was done by Claudio Garcia.
The official presentation of ‘Why I Love Tattoos’ will coincide with the opening of the exhibition ‘Rauw’, at the mentioned NAME Gallery. There will be, next to the book, work on display by artists like Ramon Maiden, Fin Dac, Copyright and Handiedan.
NAME Gallery is located at the Fannius Scholtenstraat 67, Amsterdam, the opening will take place on the 15th of June from 16:00 until 20:00. For more information on the opening see here.
The book is available online at MENDO.