27 May 2013 08:00
The Nowhereland Tattoo project in Cairo, Egypt is a underground movement led by two young Venezuelans tattoo artists, Orne Gil and Lorena Mora. The two are combating the country's growing conservatism and cultural and religious taboos associated with body art by opening a tattoo studio. Beyond that, they are attempting to change misconceptions correlated with tattoos, such as a being a mark of criminality or homosexuality, by educating people on tattoo art and how to get it safely.
In Egypt, the project faces many obstacles. In Islam, it is frowned upon for Muslims permanently mark their bodies with tattoos. In a Muslim country such as Egypt, getting body art can have grave consequences - one young man's father, a Salafist, threw corrosive acid on his son after discovering his tattoo.
Despite the fact that the two young artists are forced to work in the shadows in the back of a beauty parlor for now, the practice has spurned a new culture of Arabic calligraphy art, revolution-inspired drawings and poetry. The two remain determined and have a lofty goal of changing attitudes toward body art across not only Egypt, but other Middle Eastern countries and even some in South America. They know that change comes only one step at a time.
This is a photo-essay following the Nowehereland Tattoo Project at work in Cairo, Egypt.