Life can be beautiful, peaceful in its routine and its connective tissue to the world. In a massive world, the veins of the city connect individuals in unexpected ways. For seven women in Szczecin Poland, their association with each other is based on their love of an art form that is still dismissed my the masses.
Historically, tattoos were reserved for military, degenerates, and rock & rollers. Now, tattoos are found on mothers, teachers, designers, and students. These women portrayed in Tattoo Girls, the new documentary film by Miguel Gaudencio, are living their life as they would, from conquering physical limitations to progressing their career, they just happen to be doing this with beautiful body artwork.
The film opens, and returns to this a plethora of times throughout, with a mesmerizing aerial shot of the city. The audience is looking straight down onto the city, only catching moving parts and tops of city buildings. It’s peaceful, and whatever happens next happens in the confines of this stunning city.
What does happen is life, just life. We are introduced to these women, are granted a privileged peak into their daily routines and their environments. No real objective is stated, no pronouncement of characters and roles they play in Szczecin, and that is the best thing about this movie. That’s not what this is about. It’s about a trend that is growing and a changing perspective.
That perspective is that tattoos do not automatically equal chaos. A plethora of people from a variety of backgrounds have chosen to adorn their skin with these works of art. Speaking as someone who has several, all mine were not only a creative decision, but a meaningful one. Each one means something special to me, and it is a visual representation of a part of my soul. Even with that topic, Tattoo Girls doesn’t harbor on the idea of the purpose, it just is.
In that matter, the film doesn’t explicitly show each of these women’s tattoos. Some are easier to see than others, and some peak out in a glorious surprise later on. The subtle beauty of the tattoos themselves is expertly expressed in their introduction as we get to know these women. It once again is an example of how this art form is private, not public.
Life with no drama is true living. We don’t have to create fantastic situations to be intrigued. You aren’t witnessing chaos, even if chaos may exist, we aren’t aware. Maybe it’s the European attitude towards life, but the film was engaging by just being. There isn’t even much dialogue or explanation in what is happening in each of these women’s lives, and it doesn’t matter. The audience is along for whatever ride Gaudencio and these ladies have in store for us.
This film is supposed to change the perception of tattooed women, but it doesn’t force any opinion on its audience. The topic is presented in an interesting and subjective way, and the audience is allowed to form their own opinion. Even if you think one way in one scene, for example seeing a preschool teacher with a full sleeve, you might change your mind when you realize the “artist” has a hidden design on her ribcage.
Art is art, and whatever form it takes, on whatever “personality” its not up for anyone but that person to decide. That’s what I love about Tattoo Girls. You’re watching a film, nothing more and definitely nothing less.
In the end, you realize the connective tissue between these women is the city, they are each creating their own being in the city. The city becomes the important element, not tattoos as the title suggests. Tattoo Girls is not a documentary about women who are covered with tattoos, but instead intricate women and the lives they are building for themselves who happen to have beautiful body art.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Greenbox Europe