The Saint Mariner

by Lina Vergara Huilcamán

I check my email and find that Pietro Bossi wants to sell our books in his new place in Milan, that won’t be a conventional bookstore but a half-shop, half-tattoo parlour where you can buy books and discs. Of course, I answer, I was just planning a trip to Milan, so I could come and see the place, we could meet and talk about it. He answers yes. Then we exchange two or three short emails to arrange the meeting.
Then finally the day of the trip to Milan comes. I had quite a shitty day, because after some meetings you just want to give it all up and stop selling books.
But work is work, and it is made of false enthusiasm and meaningless goals, false smiles.
My colleague and I are ready to see this tattoo parlour – and more to come.
A giant head that could easily belong to IT smiles at us beyond the window of the shop at via Carlo Tenca 10.

Above, the sign reads: “The Saint Mariner”.

I enter with my colleague.

While I try to focus and introduce myself – I am from Logos, I have a meeting with Pietro Bossi – my eyes run all over the room and I start wandering in the… shop? Museum? Gallery? Parlour?  
Every single detail fascinates me. The so-called coffee table books. A photo exhibition on the wall behind the sofa, beautiful. The wall decorations, beautiful. Frames with illustrations, beautiful. I lose synonyms and vocabulary and education too, because you should look people in the eyes when you talk to them. I lose my mind over a sort of reliquary in the shape of a heart – a true, anatomical heart, not one of those red, upside-down butts –, fall prey to a wild, fetishist love and ask if it is for sale. It is not. Nothing of what I see is for sale. This is a tattoo parlour.
I take a business card from the table, because I like the illustration. Pietro Sedda. The same author of the drawing at the walls?
The tattoo artist?
And what about the bookshop? Because I have to focus on the purpose of my visit, at some point. We go downstairs and Pietro B. shows me the rooms destined to host the bookshop, explains me his idea. A shop to sell discs, just discs and books, music and books. A selection. But a very clear and well-defined one. He tells me the shop will open on May 9. He also explains that one day Pietro S. – the other – decided to stop painting and put his art on skin.
I am amazed. And my colleague is, too.
We give a look around and look the idea. I like Pietro B. I like the parlour. I also like Pietro S. And Max too, even if I’m not sure I understand what’s his role in the parlour.
We go out – we have another meeting – but while the body keeps going on its way, the eyes can’t leave the shop, there are so many details that I didn’t properly observe, so many things I didn’t ask. There are so many eyes I didn’t look into, damn it!!!!
And while we leave, my colleague and I sigh, because someone decides to stop painting and put his art on skin and works in a place like this, and creates a place like this, in the centre of the grey Milan, near the station. And someone leaves his job because he wants to sell ONLY DISCS AND BOOKS.
And both are named Pietro, Pietro B. and Pietro S., Bossi and Sedda. And this must be a Holy place, a cathedral.
And our time is flashing before us and maybe we don’t really do the job we want, and maybe we did all wrong in our life and maybe this is our last chance to change course because when you are in your 40s the time of big transformations comes to an end and the big stasis begins.
Will we ever do what we want?
So many questions. So many sighs.

I go back there, from time to time. Because I often travel to Milan. I go to see the work in progress and because I want to do a book with Pietro S. Because the more I discover about the world of tattoos, the more it intrigues me. I didn’t know nothing about it. And I still don’t know nothing. It is a form of art I had never considered before. A deep, carnal art.
A painting you can wear. I remembered about that movie where a poor guy had his back tattooed by a painter friend and then sold the skin of his back. I did never understand what became of him because I was a child and could only partly understand certain movies, bur I remember it well and now that memory is becoming a circle, it is taking shape.
The limits of illustration, art and storytelling are by now far beyond paper and walls. Illustration, Art and Storytelling can now touch the skin, lay on bodies, follow anatomy.
SOLO and THE SAINT MARINER, a place that is also a whole way of seeing, living, and touching things. Listening to them. Browsing them…
With all the limits of the integration of arts and of the communication between different cultural genres.

What are the boundaries of communication?

And what about those of curiosity?