Pain is an integral part of getting a tattoo, but for most people, the agony is seen as something that must be endured before the art can be appreciated—a necessary evil that’s decidedly unenjoyable. Even those who claim not to mind the pain (or even enjoy it) don’t get tattooed hoping to be hurt. There is however, a subset of body-mod enthusiasts who seek extreme discomfort first and foremost, and there’s a collective in Italy willing to take the truly brave into an all-consuming ritual of mutilation.
Tattoo artists Valerio Cancellier and Cammy Stewart created the Brutal Black project, offering free tattoos to anyone who can endure their specific process of application. Those willing to enter their domain will endure hours-long sessions of ink injections performed by multiple artists simultaneously. There’s no gentle touch here; tattoos are often delivered with the subtlety of a sucker-punch.
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The Brutal Black project was recently featured in the Vice documentary series Rites of Passage, now available to watch online in its entirety. The result in an unprecedented window into a subculture shrouded in mystery and trepidation. Those willing to give it a spin (below) should brace themselves for a real-life body horror experience that puts Clive Barker’s Hellraiser to shame.
Warning: Mature Content!
Official Synopsis: Tattoos hurt, but for most people, the pain is just a means to an end. Tattoo artists are usually mindful of their client’s pain threshold, catering for breaks and mitigating any unnecessary brutality. It’s abnormal for tattoo artists to restrain people while they’re getting tattooed, or for the tattooee to bolt upright in agony to escape the needle’s unrelenting penetrations. Nor is it very common to see sadistic mirth occupying the faces of multiple tattoo artists as they inflict the unnaturally long, thick, shallow lines seemingly without pause.
Enter Brutal Black. It’s the tattoo project where mandalas come to die and where pain is prioritized over aesthetics. Ritual and rebirth are at the forefront of this project helmed by Valerio Cancellier and Cammy Stewart. They take those brave enough to be tattooed by them on one of the most brutal experiences one can imagine; far beyond one’s threshold for pain to create an entirely new experience.
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