Art history - Medici Residency

Sarra Mezhoud

Sarra Mezhoud

05/12/2023 / 19/12/2023
Start of residency 05/12/2023
End of residency 19/12/2023

Sarra Mezhoud (Tunisia, 1996) is a doctoral student in the history of contemporary art at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Working under the supervision of Pascal Rousseau, her thesis sets out to establish the history of the long process of the appearance of tattoos in the worlds of art, artistic practices and the visual cultures of artists in the West, from the nineteenth century, when the image of the tattooed body invaded the collective imagination, to the present day, when tattoos have become works of art. As part of a historiographical approach, her research aims to recognise tattooing as a new object in the history of art.

 Her project at Villa Medici:

In residence at Villa Medici, Sarra Mezhoud will be researching the exhibition “L’Asino e la Zebra. Origini e tendenze del tatuaggio contemporaneo”, held in Rome at the Markets of Trajan from 11 April to 5 May 1985. Instigated by tattooist Don Ed Hardy and art historian Arnold Gary Rubin, this event, halfway between an exhibition and a tattoo convention, presented tattooing as an art form that had been part of the contemporary artistic and cultural scene since the 1980s. Its controversial organisation was spearheaded by Renato Nicolini, the Councillor for Culture of the Municipality of the Left in Rome, who kept the archives. The two-week residency will be devoted to documenting this event, which bears witness to the cultural institutionalisation of the tattoo’s artistic turn, giving it an Italian Renaissance of its own.

© Sarra Mezhoud



  1. Catalogue of the exhibition “L’asino e la zebra. Origini e tendenze del tatuaggio contemporaneo”, Markets of Trajan, Rome, 11 April-5 May 1985, published by Studio I and Don Ed Hardy. Cover.
  2. Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, A Young Girl of the Picts, c. 1585, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection ( B1981.25.2646).