Alfredo Meschi was born in Tuscany, Italy, to a family of fishermen and hunters. First following the steps of his father and relatives, in his later life, Meschi decided to get rid of the strong carnivorous imprint left by his family and culture. "Anti-speciesism, including its anarchist matrix, is my philosophy today, and since I met ethical veganism three years ago, my whole life has been torn down," he tells Konbini.
Alfredo spent the last 50 years fighting for animals and animal rights, however, he doesn't necessarily want to be named an activist. Instead, he insists on being called an "artivist" who uses his body as a "permanent performance piece, a political manifesto" for animal liberation.
Alfredo's inspiration to use his own skin as a canvas for expressing political and cultural beliefs came after discovering Poner el Cuerpo, Sacar la Voz, a group of Mexican artivists who use their bodies to protest against the crimes of their government colluding with narcos. But Alfredo wanted something more permanent than body paint, which is the medium of Poner el Cuerpo. He explains:
"We live in a society built on endless, self-inflicted amnesia. It’s as if our awareness of injustice, compassion, and empathy is a switch that gets turned on and off.
At the start of my career in activism, I sought a way to resist such amnesia, a way that would remind me of the fight every single second. And every second, no less than 40,000 animals are killed for the sole purpose of satisfying our appetite. I wanted to capture that and preserve it forever on my skin."
For this reason, Meschi chose to ink his skin with 40,000 X marks that signify all the animals that fall victims to our consumerist society. To keep in line with his philosophy, the artivist chose a vegan tattooing process: in addition to vegan ink, all the products used to clean, tattoo, disinfect and heal the skin were also vegan and cruelty-free.
Meschi's tattoos, unsurprisingly, attract lots of attention with onlookers constantly asking him questions about the meaning behind his ink. The artivist admits that even if they may disagree with his vision, people show respect for his commitment to the vegan movement and the fight for non-human beings.
He is proud to have inspired other people to become artivists themselves, tattooing Xs on their bodies or starting animal liberation projects, just like his Project X. Even if they just become vegans after seeing pictures of Alfredo’s body and performances, he is grateful: "All of this gives sense to my path." But Meschi doesn't limit himself to just tattoos.
The artivist has put on multiple events to express and promote his beliefs from donning a cattle tag in one of his ears to staging a photo shoot inside a slaughterhouse, dunking himself in the cold waters of the ocean to spotlight overfishing and silently protesting the unjust killing of a mama bear. Meschi believes the role of art is more important than ever and calls everyone to join him in his crusade:
"The era of 'present moment art' begins. And in the present moment, we all need to face the biggest challenge of our history – saving a planet that is dying, and interrupting a holocaust of sentient beings.
The first step in accomplishing these two perspectives is becoming ethical vegans. And we can do it now. Every second counts."