weekly update

The honking horn sound you’ll hear in the beginning of this video is a guy who rides around on a bike here in the Aclimação neighborhood of São Paulo selling homemade bread. There’s also a man who comes around on Sundays and will sharpen your knives for you. I love this.

Penitentiary Tattoo Gun #2 test from Holly Pitre on Vimeo.


Finding enough working, portable cassette players is proving to be difficult, but for now I have four with which to work.

my work table at week seven

One step in the tattoo gun making process is to scratch the ball out of a ball point ink pen. It’s quite a time-consuming step that is producing some small pieces of it’s own. The stone/cement chunk itself is becoming a beautiful artifact of this process. As I scratch the pen tip on the stone/cement chunk it produces fine dust with the ink that’s collected on it from the other pens I’ve scratched.

essential supplies: chunk of cement and a ball point pen without the casing

ball point pen tip mid scratching-out-phase

And before this step, I’ve cleaned out most of the ink tube by using it to color the front of the notebook I’ve been given by Casa Tomada to then leave with them. I’m thinking of filling the notebook with this blue/green/grey dust produced from the scratching process.

Note book for Casa Tomada collection






I meet with independent curator and Photo-Festival’s director, Yasmina Reggad, last week. We had an intense and thought-provoking discussion about my work with T-Roe, and Yasmina had some great questions for me.

Here are some of the things we talked about:

– looking at artists who sent instructions to other artists and galleries to make works.  (Sol Lewitt, Helio Oiticica).

– T-roe’s role is in our collaboration and the issue of authorship

– Détournement

– return to my aritstic process

 -Mohamed Bourouissa

Tattoo Gun prototype 1, motor, gear, rubber band, toothbrush, batteries, wire, tape

This is the first prototype for the tattoo gun on which I’m working. It doesn’t yet work. I will keep making versions of the gun, until I understand how it works and am able to make it function as it should.

While working on these guns, I’ve been listening to Electrelane, Carmin Miranda, Wave Machines, RadioHead, a bit of LCD Soundsystem (especially “Dance Yourself Clean”), and lots of Brazilian stuff from the 1970’s. I really wish I could send T-Roe music so he could hear what I’m hearing. Unfortunately he isn’t allowed to receive CDs.

The postal strike continues here in Brazil. I keep mailing letters.

Tattoo Gun prototype (detail of needle)

Last week I sent T-Roe my third letter from Brazil. I put this short story by Jorge Amado in it.

I also asked for further explanation on building the tattoo gun.

There is a postal strike going on here. I haven’t gotten anything from T-Roe yet, but I’m going to keep my letters coming…or going.

This first week (which was last week) in residency at Casa Tomada was dedicated to getting to know my way around parts of São Paulo city and my talented fellow artists and curators in residence. You can view pics here.

T-Roe has a huge tattoo on one of his shoulders with stars and the name of his son. The tattoo was started and is still being worked on using a tattoo gun that is assembled using components from an AM/FM cassette player, a common ball-point ink pen, and a toothbrush. To make the ink, I am instructed, you burn the remaining plastic from the cassette player, collect the soot, and mix with water. I’ve started building this tattoo gun from my brother’s instructions.

I’m still working out the kinks and sourcing parts.

assembly of tattoo gun

So far I’ve gotten three letters and one postcard off to T-Roe, telling him about my exploration around the city here, complete with pictures and copies of Brazilian short stories as souvenirs. I think I should start receiving letters from him next week.