Skin: a work by Shelley Jackson

Shelley Jackson’s Skin is a literary work published on skin.  It started in 2003 with a call for participants in Cabinet Magazine and continues to this day.  Jackson’s 2,095 word story is being tattooed word by word on the skin of volunteers, creating a story that will live- and die.

To read more background information about the story check out an article by The New York Times here.  Also, you can check out Jackson’s website for Skin.

When I heard about this project in 2004 I was instantly drawn in.  I loved the idea of being connected to others through art and tattoos.  I sent in my application within the week.  Several months later I was delighted to be accepted, and then I saw my word………dead.  I struggled with the idea for several weeks, but could not bring myself to have that word tattooed on my skin.  I sent Shelley a polite email declining my spot in the skin project, but have always been a little sad about it.  Today, I checked out Jackson’s site for skin and was amused to find on the opening page dead among the words pictured.  It seems the person who ended up with it shaved a spot on their head and had it tattooed there.  I personally think that’s a bit of a cop out, but it was interesting to see the fate of my word.

part of Shelley Jackson's Skin project

one of Shelley Jackson's words


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