Untitled 1 2008
Cedric Arnold UK
pigment print on cotton fibre paper
courtesy of Galerie Olivier Waltman
The photos of Cedric Arnold tell the story of the ritual tattoos in Thailand that are part of the Yantra tradition. The ink on the bodies of both shamans and normal citizens protect them against dark forces and against bad luck. It is a personal talisman, that unlike the contemporary Western tattoo art, is about much more than just decoration.
Although these rituals are normally viewed in an anthropological context, our analytical minds often see them as part of a religious experience and we dismiss them as ‘primitive’ or ‘exotic’ and not part of our Western customs. In recent years however, we have seen a renewed interest in crafts and traditions, even here in our part of the world. I am completely convinced therefore that Western designers can also make utensils that touch us ‘beyond memory’. Modern art at the beginning of the 20th century was nurtured among others by the interest of artists such as Mondriaan, Itten, Van Doesburg and Kandinsky in theosophy and anthroposophy ( ... ) This was not about advocating a new spiritual movement, but it was an exercise in reactivating the qualities that holistic world images offer when it comes to creating and building our material world. In the same way that Alain de Botton wrote a religious manual for atheists, this is a search for subjective qualities that offer an illumination of our material world from the inside out.
A Wild Thing, p. 52-53