Imagine if the roads we walked our entire lives magically appeared in tattoo on our backs. What if it updated every night, new ink appearing as we took new paths, ink darkening as we walked the same route, over and over again. Somehow, all the places we went to would have to fit on there. What would yours look like?
This piece embodies so much historical and social significance - it's a physical journey reliving the 1934 Long March (6,000 mile, 368 day retreat of the Communist Party from its encircled headquarters) - and documented via tattoo on his back.
From The Morning News:
"In 2002, participants in the Long March Project began a “Walking Visual Display” along the route of China’s historic, six-thousand-mile Long March (1934-6). As the team undertook the arduous journey, Beijing-based artist Qin kept in close contact with them and tracked the group’s route, with needle and ink, on a tattooed map on his back. Three years later, Qin continued the trek where the original marchers had left off. He was accompanied by three cameramen, who recorded their movements over unremittingly demanding terrain—from snow-covered Himalayan peaks to swamp grasslands—and a tattoo artist, who continually updated the groups progress on Qin’s back."
This photograph is from the book, The Map of the Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography, by Katharine Harmon.