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Confessions of a Rum Runner

By SARAH FEENEY, Sailor Jerry Scout

And then I dropped my phone into a toilet puddle in downtown Sao Paulo…..

The crowd from the bar above Choque Cultural has spilled out onto the roof and I've spilled out with them, hoping to escape the thick mugginess inside, not to mention the awkwardness of not being able to understand that evening’s entertainment. Bit stupid going to a Portuguese beatnik-style poetry event when you don’t understand Portuguese. At one point the entertainment  took a rather ‘unique’ change in direction but more about that later…

sailor jerry brazil shot

I’m there to talk to Baixo and Mariana, the couple who own the Choque Cultural art gallery. We're talking about a collaboration planned for December, a gathering of their friends, who happen to include some of the best tattoo artists in Sao Paulo. Baixo and Mariana know this world better than anyone. In addition to running one of Sao Paulo's more influential art galleries, they ran a Sao Paulo tattoo studio in the late 90s and have a son who is a tattoo artist at the Black Ball shop in Pinheiros.

The event will be a discussion about the role of tattoo art in the conventional art world. Basically, we're posing the question, can tattoo's iconoclastic approach to art make the art world more interesting? Tattoos are simultaneously “ephemeral” and “eternal”. A tattoo is “site-specific”, yet at the same time it can be displayed “everywhere”. And finally, that tattoo art can't be reduced to a commodity –“you can’t sell your arm”. All these things challenge the conventions of the existing art world. And challenging something is usually the surest way to make it better. But then we wonder if the tattoo artists of Sao Paulo even care about what’s happening in the art world. Do they even feel like they're a part of it?

The only way to answer these questions is to bring everyone together – the people who run the arts scene and the tattoo artist themselves. And that's exactly what our December session aims to do.

Sailor Jerry will report back about that discussion and its outcome, but if you're still wondering about the unique entertainment, I admit that was bit of a tease. Unfortunately, there isn't any more to that story I can repeat here. But later that night I did go on to find a gem of Brazilian-psychedlic-60s rock while shuffling around the bar / vinyl record shop Sensorial in Jardins. Os Mutantes (by Os Mutantes). And so instead of a story about the ‘entertainment’, I will leave you with the sounds of this classic album...

Life sucks right?