Sunburn Art is an Internet Trend that Owes Everything to this Artist
Second-degree burn required.
If you’re feeling the urge to express yourself artistically over the holiday weekend but don’t feel like abandoning the beach, then you’re in luck. There’s a new trend sweeping the Internet, and it’s called sunburn art.
Sunburn art consists of applying sunscreen or fabric to specific sections of the epidermis in order to create geometric patterns, designs, and logos (yes, someone actually did the Batman symbol).
Just like a regular sunburn, it’s bad for you and can lead to skin cancer. But unlike a regular sunburn, it makes for great Instagram images.
The practice was recently featured on an episode of the Today Show, in which anchor Matt Lauer sagely warned viewers that “this trend is not even close to safe.” We’re betting that warning won’t stop people from burning super-festive American flags into their skin this weekend, however.
Believe it or not, there’s actually an art historical reference point for this fad. In 1970, conceptual performance artist Dennis Oppenheim enacted Reading Position for a Second Degree Burn, in which he documented sunburn by strategically placing a book upon his chest and lying in the sun for five hours.
While we’re guessing most of today’s sunburn artists aren’t thinking about where the trend fits within the canon, some people have indeed taken inspiration from the greats—including one person below who managed to burn a recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa into their chest.
For a safer alternative, Emma Hacks’s form of body art might be better.
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