Taboo No More

I am quite amazed by the South Korean cat tattoos featured in this article, but not really surprised to learn that “Under Korean law, tattooing is defined as a medical procedure” and thousands of the country’s tattoo artists are still remain underground. In most Asian cultures (and many other cultures!), it’s common to associate tattoo with gangsters, criminals, an antisocial attitude or possibly a degenerating lifestyle. While traditional Asian cultures seem to have particularly low tolerance in accepting this kind of unconventional form of art which requires using human skin as canvas. For example, in Japan, where tattoo designs had been observed as early as Yayoi period, you can still be prohibited from entering hot springs or public baths because of tattoos in 2010s Japan.

Tatoo ban Image source
An oppressed environment for this kind of art form is probably not such a bad thing.  Every individual tattoo by these South Korean tattooists exists like a quietly burgeoning flower from muddy underground — subtle, delicate, telling unique stories just on their own (thanks to Instagram).

She&She: FKA twigs & Ella Chen

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Screenshot from “Are You Normal 你正常嗎” by Ella Chen 陳嘉樺
Official video release date:13 April 2015

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Screenshot from “Pendulum” by FKA twigs
Official video release date:15 Jan 2015

“Are You Normal 你正常嗎” is from the first solo album Ella Chen released outside of S.H.E, the popular Taiwanese girls group she belongs to. I just couldn’t help but think that this music clip is a clever adaptation of the whole set-up of FKA twigs‘ “Pendulum”  when I saw a picture of Ella having the same kind of “double-bun” hair style and the hanging stripe in the background. The movements she takes in the video seem to further confirm that. And here is another music video in the same album of Ella’s with elements of chains, characters being tied up and scenes of “struggling to be free” , which again remind me of “Pendulum”.

Ella Chen and FKA twigs each has quite distinct target markets and obviously very different things to express in their music videos. However it’s still interesting to see how the relatively artistic set-up in “Pendulum” can be turned into something that fits into Asian pop culture and then go back to the commercial world.

Here are the two videos for those who would like to compare in details.

“Are You Normal 你正常嗎” (from 3’20”)

“Pendulum”