Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Volume IIIPrevious project Next project
205x125 mm hardback
Nomination: Brit Insurance Designs
of the Year 2010
This is the final volume of drawings and photographs from Danzig Baldaev and Sergei Vasiliev, which completes the Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia trilogy.
Danzig Baldaev documented over three thousand tattoos during a lifetime working as a prison guard. His recording of this esoteric world was reported to the KGB who unexpectedly supported him, realising 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. The illustrated criminals of Russia tell the tale of their closed society.
With an introduction by historian Alexander Sidorov, exploring the origin of Russian criminal tattoos and their meaning today.
By presenting this material in book form, FUEL have given the iconography of the Russian underworld the status of art... contextualising texts and photographs, enabling cross-referencing between volumes. The tattoos are an extraordinary creative outpouring in otherwise bleak lives.
Brit Insurance Designs of the Year 2010
As with everything FUEL produce, this looks perfect.
You might think a third volume of photos and drawings of Russian prison tats may be getting a little tired, but it isn't.
This is not solely an addendum to the previous volumes, but stands well on its own. The book's physical and emotional core lies in the Baldaev drawings, which are ethnographic, artistic, and surprisingly moving. His unflinching documentation reveals a world of systematic brutality and violence, where prisoners flaunted their savagery on their skin and punished their adversaries, poseurs, and the weak by etching humiliations
Consider it virtually a duty to treat yourself to these books.