A Most Macabre Art Form on This Man's Back

Not the tattoo itself—what's going to happen to his back when he dies
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2017 4:48 PM CST

(Newser) – It was a plan two years in the making, and it took 40 hours to execute, but Tim Steiner has finally fulfilled his dream: to become a walking, talking piece of art. Harry Low reveals Steiner's story for the BBC, which started when Steiner, a 40-year-old Swiss man who used to run a tattoo studio, got wind of the chance of a lifetime. A Belgian artist named Wim Delvoye (a man most often found tattooing pigs) wanted to ink an exotic tattoo across someone's entire back, then sell this creation to German art collector Rik Reinking for $160,000—human included. Steiner decided to become that human canvas.

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"My skin belongs to Rik Reinking now," he tells Low, describing his elaborate back tat as "the ultimate art form." As part of the deal, Steiner gets a third of the sale price, and he has to take his shirt off and sit as an exhibit no fewer than three times a year. Delvoye's goal for this unusual venture: to watch a piece of living art morph as the years go by. "I can get fat, scarred, burned, anything," Steiner notes. "It's the process of living." And when that process of living is over? That's when it gets somewhat macabre: His back skin will be removed and framed to be hung with the other pieces in Reinking's art collection. Head over to the BBC to view the ornate design. (Bet no one in prison has a tattoo like this.)

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