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Traditionally, a rite of passage is a celebration of the passage, which occurs when an individual leaves one group or sphere to enter another. It is based on the assumption that civilizations are arranged on a scale, implying that the lower levels represent the simplest level of development and that social groups in such a society likewise have magico-religious foundations. Many groups in modern industrial society practice customs that can be traced to an earlier sacred phase. Passage between these groups requires a ceremony, or ritual hence rite of passage.
In the first phase, people usually withdraw from their current status and prepare to move from one place or status to another. During this phase of separation there is often a detachment or “cutting away” from the former self, which is signified in symbolic actions and rituals, e.g. the cutting of the hair for a person who has just joined the army.Or a tattoo.
He or she is “cutting away” the former self: the civilian. While it is questionable if getting a tattoo these days is based on such a spiritual superstructure, as was once was considered taboo and scrutinized has become recognized and mainstream, especially with the realm of tattooing having become the most active arena in the world for the commissioning or original artworks, Australia’s biggest tattoo festival celebrates exactly that: The Rites of Passage Tattoo Festival, which has been running in Melbourne for the last 5 years, aims to bring back what the meaning of tattooing and other forms of body modification, e.g. piercing and branding, means for the individual. The festival prides itself on the celebration of creativity and connecting different individuals through body art to be a diverse and an all-inclusive event, built on a core value of ‘family’.
Over the course of 3 days, Rites of Passage featured more than 250 tattoo artists from around the globe including Nikko Hurtado of Anchor Collective fame, who specialized in human portrature, Aniela Frudum from Sweden, and a range of Australian artists (Khan, Mystik Tattoos, Jake Danielson, Khail Aitken, Andrew Smith among others) showcasing their work and the professionalism of the industry.
Rites of Passage also featured live entertainment, Moto X Freestyle action featuring Australia’s most prominent motocross team Freestyle Kings, Battle of the Bands, local food trucks, competitions for upcoming talent, industry tattoo skill seminars for budding and professional artists and art exhibitions curated by Rhys Gordon, who is heralded for his knowledge of Japanese tattoo culture and its mythology that is reflected in his work and who hosted a seminar on Australian tattoo history.
Rites of Passage Fest is the embodiment of the fact that attitudes towards and tattooing in itself have evolved significantly over the years, with artists from a variety of backgrounds, most prominently from the realm of fine art, enriching and pushing the envelope of what was thought to be possible with their ideas and consequently expanding the range of people who are now looking to get ink done or who are just intrigued to find out more about the process and the artists.
The team behind Rites of Passage has succeeded in designing an eclectic experience with an inclusive atmosphere, making it enjoyable event for all ages and something to save the date for in 2017.
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