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mortal work of art

Shelley Jackson's Ineradicable Stain: Skin Project
Posting Access:
All Members , Moderated
Please contact frenchpress with questions or comments regarding this community.

This community is in no way affiliated with Shelley Jackson and was not created by her. This is simply a forum to discuss her 'Skin' project and connect with other participants.

Members agree to uphold the contract made with said author.


Project launched: August 2003

Title and first word inked: Monday September 8, Bowery Tattoo, New York
Documentation here.

Current status: in process, with a focus on mailing stories to participants who have sent in documentation of their completed tattoos.

Number of volunteers provisionally accepted to date: approx. 1875 of 2095

Number of releases actually received: 1440

Words mailed out: 1422

Words assigned but not yet mailed: 18

Words inked: approx. 510

Stories sent: 274

New participants needed: 695 or more (depending on drop-outs)

Number of volunteers: over 10,000

Total number of emails I have received related to this project: 18,922.

Number of unanswered emails in my inbox to date: 7,870


Writer Shelley Jackson invites participants in a new work entitled "Skin." Each participant must agree to have one word of the story tattooed upon his or her body. The text will be published nowhere else, and the author will not permit it to be summarized, quoted, described, set to music, or adapted for film, theater, television or any other medium. The full text will be known only to participants, who may, but need not choose to establish communication with one another. In the event that insufficiant participants come forward to complete the first and only edition of the story, the incomplete version will be considered definitive. If no participants come forward, this call itself is the work.

Prospective participants should contact the author (shelley@drizzle.com) and explain their interest in the work. If they are accepted they must sign a contract and a waiver releasing the author from any responsibility for health problems, body image disorders, job-loss, or relationship difficulties that may result from the tattooing process. On receipt of the waiver, the author will reply with a registered letter specifying the word (or word plus punctuation mark) assigned to participant. Participants must accept the word they are given, but they may choose the site of their tattoo, with the exception of words naming specific body parts, which may be anywhere but the body part named. Tattoos must be in black ink and a classic book font. Words in fanciful fonts will be expunged from the work.

When the work has been completed, participants must send a signed and dated close-up of the tattoo to the author, for verification only, and a portrait in which the tattoo is not visible, for possible publication. Participants will receive in return a signed and dated certificate confirming their participation in the work and verifying the authenticity of their word. Author retains copyright, though she contracts not to devalue the original work with subsequent editions, transcripts, or synopses. However, correspondence and other documentation pertaining to the work (with the exception of photographs of the words themselves) will be considered for publication.

From this time on, participants will be known as "words". They are not understood as carriers or agents of the texts they bear, but as its embodiments. As a result, injuries to the printed texts, such as dermabrasion, laser surgery, tattoo cover work or the loss of body parts, will not be considered to alter the work. Only the death of words effaces them from the text. As words die the story will change; when the last word dies the story will also have died. The author will make every effort to attend the funerals of her words.