Synopses & Reviews
This final volume of previously unpublished drawings and photographs completes the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia trilogy. Danzig Baldaev's unparallelled ethnographic achievement, documenting more than 3,000 tattoo drawings, was made during a lifetime working as a prison guard. His recording of this esoteric world was reported to the KGB, who unexpectedly supported him, realizing the importance of being able to establish facts about convicts by reading the images on their bodies. The motifs depicted represent the uncensored lives of the criminal classes, ranging from violence and pornography to politics and alcohol. A medieval knight is surrounded by the severed heads of his enemies, a naked woman simultaneously services a man and two dwarfs, a crying President Gorbachev grips a human bone between sabre-like fangs, a group of angels drink vodka with God on a cloud--the meanings of these arresting images are explained to the uninitiated eye. Sergei Vasiliev's graphic photographs show the grim reality of the Russian prison system and some of the alarming characters that inhabit it, while the illustrated criminals of Russia tell the tale of their closed society. This last volume in the trilogy includes an introduction by historian Alexander Sidorov exploring the origins of the Russian criminal tattoo and their various meanings today.
Danzig Baldaev's father was an academic, an ethnologist who found himself imprisoned under Soviet rule as an enemy of the people. In fact much of Baldaev's family moved through the Soviet prison system, while he became a guard. At his father's suggestion, he used his access to document and study that tattoos that were pervasive among the truly criminal portion of the prison population, the vory v zakonye, or legitimate thieves, a semi-professional class who keep their own brutal laws. During his 30 years supervising inmates in St. Petersburg's notorious Kresty Prison, Baldaev recorded over 3,000 of their tattoos and parsed their meaning--the nihilistic creativity of a closed society--in the drawings and text that made the first volume of The Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia a bestseller. This essential second volume, which collects all new, previously unseen photographs and drawings, goes to the extremes of his incredible collection. Sergel Vasilev's photographs authenticate the images, Baldaev's drawings make sense of them, and through them both we glimpse an extraordinary world where the criminal's position, history and even sexual preference are displayed indelibly on his body, and that marked body serves as a passport into the underworld.
During his 30 years supervising inmates in St. Petersburg's notorious Kresty Prison, Baldaev recorded over 3,000 of their tattoos and parsed their meaning, revealing an extraordinary world where the criminal's position, history and even sexual preference are displayed indelibly on his body, and that marked body serves as a passport into the underworld.
Called a fantastic, mind-blowing photo and graphics book documenting the subculture of tattooing in Russian prisons by director Cronenberg, this final volume of previously unpublished drawings and photographs completes the "Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia" trilogy.Fuel Publishing