This image is from a punker I met when I first came to Germany. His name was Toby and he explained the process of self-tattooing to me. Apparently while incarcerated, he and his inmates melted their cafeteria trays with their lighters and then very patiently and carefully pushed the substance into cuts they made in their skin with sharpened straws.
Well alrighty then Toby.
I was horrified and equally fascinated. I bought him and his wife kebabs and they agreed to let me photograph them. A week or so later I gave them a framed photo. The girl accepted it with tears in her eyes telling me in perfect English that she never had a wedding picture.
So last night while I was out with my friend Uli we got to talking about her work with troubled kids. My intrigue-o-meter started blinking while we discussed the possibility of a volunteer gig where I'd present an art project to her group. The conversation went something like this:
Uli: "You realize you'd be locked in with them?"
Me: "NO way! How these kids so bad can be?"
Uli: "Well they're too young for jail and they still need to be educated."
Me: "How old they are?"
Uli: "Between 11 and 14."
Me: "They be dangerous?"
Uli: "Sometimes it's dangerous."
(Pause for dramatic effect).
Me: "Think you they can carving tools using?"
What the hell is wrong with me? *Slaps head.*
Or then again, maybe I'm onto something. I mean, do I go into this doing what I'm actually good at and trust that if I treat these kids with respect and let them do their thing that it will be successful? Carving leads to printing. And printing is what I do!
Or do I bring them balls of spun wool and expect them to weave pot holders? (Talk about lame). And if you think about it, you quickly come to the conclusion that they could choke me to death with a skein of yarn anyway.
Like new parents with an active baby, suddenly danger seems eminent with every idea I conjure up. Embossing gun = arson. Graffiti painting = huffing aerosol fumes. (And I mean me, not the kids. What else should I do when I'm scared shit-less and hunkered down in the corner while they laugh at my bad German and rejoice in the smell of my fear).
Uli seemed to think a sewing machine would be a huge hit. I'm wondering how hard it would be to get the boys to sew. She warned me that no matter what project I prepare, I'd be up against a few who won't want to cooperate because everything is "stupid" to them.
And I'd like to mention just how incredible Uli is. She is the kindest, gentlest creature on earth. When the great creator in the sky was making the Germans, Uli got dipped in the goodness vat several times. She's that wonderful. If she can take these kids, I'll probably be OK too. Then again, she's a trained professional. And you just never know, maybe she's a skilled master at close quarters combat for all I know.
The whole thing had me thinking back to my friends the punkers who still greet me to this day when I see them around town. They're such smart kids just living by their own alternative rules.
I'm sort of leaning towards my original carving idea. If for no other reason, merely for the sake of having an excellent party story. What a great response to the old, "What do you do for a living?" question. I can cleverly answer, "Yeah I didn't work a lot while I was in Europe but I got this gig demonstrating art to a bunch of German delinquents in a lock-down situation and I actually brought in a box of carving knives." That totally trumps the whole, "well I'm a blogger and I do mixed media artwork in my basement."
Let's do this thing! But I need your help. What other projects do you think would be appealing to a small group of juvies? What do you think about the carving tools? It's not like they could actually harvest one of my organs with an exacto knife can they? Maybe just an eye...?
Thoughts? Ideas? Let's discuss...bring on your arty love!