I hope I’ll make it to Berlin when this exhibit is up!

The Russian Criminal Tattoo Archive, founded by London-based FUEL design group in 2009, is a tattoo collection  that comprises 739 original drawings by Danzig Baldaev and the photographs of Russian prisoners taken by Sergei Vasiliev.

This unique archive contains Russian criminals’ tattoos and their coded meanings. Included in the collection are more than three thousand tattoo drawings made by Danzig Baldaev during his time as a prison guard between 1948 and 1986. Tattoos were his gateway into a secret world in which he acted as ethnographer, recording the rituals of a closed society. The icons and tribal languages he documented are artful, distasteful, sexually explicit and provocative, reflecting as they do the lives and traditions of convicts.

The accompanying photographs by Sergei Vasiliev act as an important counterpart to Baldaev’s drawings, providing photographic evidence of their authenticity, and allowing us a glimpse into this compelling and extraordinary world. In these incredible…

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