By Mike Landry
Prints taken from Jason Fitzpatrick's back for "Bite and Burn."
After the final print was taken off the freshly finished black stripe of a tattoo running down Jason Fowler Fitzpatrick’s spine, he was done with Bite and Burn. After a total of nine hours of tattooing in three cities (Toronto, Vancouver and Sackville, NB), 80 bloody prints, and many death metal and punk records his performance/installation sculpture was finished.
But like a musician backstage listening to the roar of the crowd demanding more, Bite and Burn kept calling Fitzpatrick back. Working with the original performance sculpture’s components, but not extending the piece, Bite and Burn, encore recaps the entirety of the original piece.
“The totality of the sculpture was completed. So each individual piece was a part of that. In my own mind it made logical sense to have something that signified that. I didn’t know what that would be,” says Fitzpatrick. “I just started taking things from [Bite and Burn] and building things in my studio.
Included in the new installation are 60 prints of Fitzpatrick’s back from Bite and Burn, a video piece collecting the original raw footage, 96 death metal-esque tour shirts for the Bite and Burn tour.
Fitzpatrick has also built a Gyprock platform, upon which he was tattooed again last Saturday while a rock band played below. Working with a tattoo artist and printmaker, Fitzpatrick’s latest tattoo was inspired by NSCAD’s lithography workshops. An edition of ten prints were taken off his right chest.
It’s easy to focus on the pain and labour involved in Bite and Burn, but Fitzpatrick thinks that’s a superficial examination of his work. He’s more interested in transformation and growth.
Transformation is also the reason why Bite and Burn focuses on the tattoo. It stands in as a ritual for transformation, and harkens back to Fitzpatrick’s own personal history in the 80’s metal scene—a culture marked by hitchhiking to Montreal and ritual-like activities like tattooing. It’s how he grew up and learned to be a man.
“Pain is not what I seek. It’s simply a consequence of an activity. There’s a lot of things that people do that aren’t necessarily pleasant, but we want to do them to get to the other side and be different than we were before.
“When I go up against and push against something restrictive I tend to grow, like when you’re at the gym and you push against something and your muscles grow. I think that can happen to a person as well. When we push against authority and the rules we tend to grow.”
Bite and Burn, encore is on display until Tue February 8 at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in Halifax.