Breaking Boundaries Maison d’Ailleurs Hosts First Tattoo Convention in a Swiss Museum


Tattoos were long considered body art for outsiders. Today, they are almost a fashionable “must.” The Maison d’Ailleurs in Yverdon-les-Bains is hosting the first Tattoo Convention in a Swiss museum.

Marc Atallah is not entirely sure, but the three-day Tattoo Convention in Yverdons-les-Bains is likely the first event of its kind in a Swiss museum.

Marc Atallah heads the Maison d’Ailleurs, a museum specializing in pop culture and science fiction.

Ein Mittvierziger mit Brille und Backenbart steht in einem Ausstellungsraum und verschränkt die Arme vor seiner Brust.

Currently, the museum features an exhibition on cultural revolts and revolutions, questioning how exhibitions typically function. For example, the opening took place in empty rooms. The exhibition spaces were set up only after the guests had begun their toasts. Usually, this would be a major faux pas.

Turning the art world upside down

Marc Atallah says he wants to shake up the ideas about what one does in a museum. Through events not typically held in a museum. This gave rise to the first Tattoo Convention at Maison d’Ailleurs. The connection between art and the tattoo scene is not entirely new.

Ein Mann Alters überkreuzt beide Arme vor seiner Brust. Er steht in einem Zimmer, das mit Gruselbildern ausgemalt ist.

Marc Atallah recounts that H.R. Giger, known well beyond the art world for his nightmarish visual visions and his design for the monster in the science fiction thriller “Alien,” used to visit tattoo studios in his youth. He was interested in the images being inked there and fascinated by the unique atmosphere in these places.

The allure of the forbidden and hidden

Tattoo studios were hidden places. Tattoos were only found on the fringes of Western society for a long time. In some countries and regions, tattooing was even illegal.

In the canton of Bern, for example, there were officially no tattoo studios until the 1980s. Those with tattoos often placed them where they couldn’t be seen when clothed. So, it was all about the neckline.

The connection between tattooing and the body

The societal perception of tattoos has significantly changed, as has the cultural value attributed to tattoos. Tattoos can, in the best case, be art if the design has artistic value and if there is a successful connection between the tattoo and the body.

Marc Atallah from Maison d’Ailleurs sees another connection: “With a tattoo, you mark the body with an image that says something.”

For the first Tattoo Convention at Maison d’Ailleurs, a dozen tattoo artists from Western Switzerland were invited. Visitors can get “Flash Tattoos” – small designs completed in one or two hours – without prior appointments. If the convention is well-received, it is planned to continue next year.

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