Going out on a limb: Tattoo parlor art show features disembodied arms

Going out on a limb: Tattoo parlor art show features disembodied arms
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Skin art is not the only thing worth checking out at this tattoo parlor.

At Eight of Swords in Williamsburg, you can get inked, purchase a pair of cuff links shaped like skulls — and also peruse an art show. Artist Sarah Best, whose exhibition “Fragmented Being” is currently on display at the studio, said the combination actually makes a lot of sense.

“If you want to be immersed in art, a tattoo studio is a good place to be,” she said.

“Fragmented Being” is not Best’s first exhibition at a tattoo parlor. In fact, curator Erica Flannes first scouted Best’s art at nearby Magic Cobra Tattoo Society. When viewed live, it is easy to see why Best’s handiwork fares well in the environment — her latest show features pairs of arms, cast in smooth plaster, and pierced by iron nails or cuffed with copper wire.

The literal body of work is mostly fashioned after Best’s own limbs.

“I initially intended to use models,” said the Alaskan-born, Brooklyn-based artist. “But as I began the project, I realized that I wasn’t making work about the larger picture — I was dealing with events in my own life.”

Best’s signature style juxtaposes hard and soft elements, giving both her sculptures and collages a punkish yet feminine feel. The disembodied limbs and visages that occupy center stage in “Fragmented Being” relay obvious fascination for the human form.

“My work deals with the boundaries of corporeal space,” she said. “Physical as well as emotional pain marks the boundaries and our awareness of this space.”

And pain is a familiar sensation at Eight of Swords.

“I believe that various forms of body modification also deal with corporeal space,” said Best, “at times seeking to transcend the body altogether.”

“Fragmented Being” at Eight of Swords [115 Grand St. near Berry Street in Williamsburg, (718) 387–9673, www.8ofswords.com] Through Mar. 13.