In a video titled Dancing Monkey With Pants, German artist Jan Schekauski is seen with a monkey walking all over his bare back, dabbing colorful patterns with its paint-soaked feet. It appears to be a fun project, but then Jan does something bizarre – he proceeds to make the monkey’s artwork permanent, by having a tattoo artist ink it onto his skin! If you’re wondering what a monkey-made tattoo might look like, well, it’s actually pretty decent. The splotches of color make for a rather pleasing pattern, sort of like abstract, free-form painting that is meant to capture the emotional state of the painter. In this case, it’s quite evident that the monkey was enjoying himself.
Speaking about the project, Jan said: “I’d been looking for a monkey to realise one of my ideas for a project for over two years.” He eventually found the right animal for the job, a rhesus named Dasha. The project was carried out at the Europa Center in Berlin, in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall. “In everyday life this leaves room for interpretation even more than an abstract painting in a museum,” Jan explained. “Art that no one can see cannot exist just as knowledge does not exist if it is not made use of.”
In the two-year-old video, a tattoo artist is seen tracing out the monkey’s painting and transferring it onto a stencil, which is then used to ink the final tattoo. Beside it, on the lower part of Jan’s back, are etched the words: “Human dignity is inviolable.” It seems that Jan is implying that the ancient proverb also applies to the painting made by the monkey, because “all of creation is art.” Say what you will about the reasoning of the artist, but you have to admit the monkey’s design turned out much better than what this poor guy ended up with on his arm.