Natascha Stellmach, Magnus as part of The Letting Go, Berlin Festival, 2014

Natascha Stellmach, Magnus as part of The Letting Go, Berlin Festival, 2014

The Letting Go is an artistic-somatic process, which employs the art of bloodline tattooing as part of a holistic experience.

What would you like to let go of?

In response to the above question and during a consultation with Natascha, a personal obstacle is identified, named and inscribed on the body (bloodline tattoo). Over time as the wound heals, the word slowly disappears. The process encourages self-awareness and celebrates our capacity for compassion.

Tattoos and cuts have historical practices as initiation, identification, adornment and sacred rite. A bloodline tattoo is a marking of the skin that fades over time, created when a tattoo machine is used without ink. This is not scarification and Natascha follows strict codes of confidentiality and health and safety guidelines.

In 2012, I began developing this process as a performance art project, to explore an alternative form of intimate personal enquiry in the contemporary art setting. The project has evolved both as public performance art and private practice. I am frequently in awe of the stunning surrender, catharsis and agency that this process inspires – for not only participants but also in spectators and myself. Why I love this work? It can help us see the wonder in our wounds. Natascha Stellmach


Day 1, Jennifer’s Letting Go, 2014

The Letting Go process can assist in helping to overcome a personal obstacle by

  • identifying and naming
  • harnessing (fleeting) pain to embody and observe the body’s capacity for healing
  • watching impermanence play out on the body
  • engaging in a restorative process of self-care
  • owning, honouring and accepting.

For some the process has been profoundly cathartic and transformative, for others it has introduced a nurturing ritual and at the very least, becomes an intimate, unique tattoo experience; without the permanence.

The Letting Go takes its inspiration from the traditions of ritual tattooing (Sak Yant etc.), Buddhism (impermanence, stream of consciousness and mindfulness), psychoanalytic theories (Anzieu) and artistic-healing practices (Abramovic, Jodorowsky, Beuys).


Day 2, M’s Letting Go, 2015


  • takes 2 hours
  • happens in Berlin (or Melbourne)
  • is anonymous and strictly confidential
  • involves: a meditation followed by a discussion, the word-finding process, tattooing the skin without ink and photographic documentation (optional) .
  • post session offerings: follow-up email exchange including a digital photograph of the tattoo (optional).
  • costs 500 €

Although Stellmach’s therapy background [BSc(OT)] and former employment in pain and stress management is undeniable; these sessions are not ersatz counselling or therapy.

BOOKINGS: studio [at] nataschastellmach.com

* speak to me if this fee breaks your bank

A participant post-Tattoo in Letting Go 'elan'

Aare unwage victorious particpant during The Letting Go, Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg, 2015 © Studio Stellmach


I am so PROUD to have my OMBRA tattoo! Francesco, Geneva

Thank you Natascha: Goddess. Witch. Magician. Devil. Doctor. Nurse. Sandra, Leipzig

It is especially powerful to be confronted by a word as a wound on one’s own body. Unsettling, but brings with it great clarity. Katja, Hamburg

Natascha gives voice to vulnerability.
Audrey, Melbourne

Art that hurts. Art as ritual. I don’t do drugs, but afterwards I felt so very high. Andreas, Cologne

Natascha was like a gracious doctor or shaman that specializes in exorcising demons. Rachel, Brisbane

At the end, Natascha congratulates me and asks how I feel: as if I’ve had really great sex, or as if it were the first time.  Reinhard, Fürth

The horror of having that word scrawled above my ass forever gave me a much-needed kick. It’s more than the fear though – I named my problem. Natascha helped me.
Lily, Melbourne

Thank you for helping me remind myself each and every day to explore myself! Mathias, Hamburg

The day after the tattoo felt like Christmas morning. It had not disappeared overnight. It was visible and true on my skin. I was visible.  Inga, Bremen


Day 1, Gabi’s Letting Go, 2015


• No tattoo experience is required (it hurts much less than you think)

• Universal safety tattooing precautions are followed, using sterile equipment, supplies and lotions.

• Stellmach’s Text-Tattoos eschew adornment and are intentionally kept simple.

• The word disappears: the wound will heal and fade across 1 week to 9 months, dependent on several factors including our care and how our skin responds to a cut.

• Participation is not permitted in cases of pregnancy, psychiatric illness or certain medical conditions where wounds are to be avoided (i.e: diabetes, epilepsy, hemophilia, cardiac insufficiency, HIV, Hepatitis C, organ or blood-thinning medication recipient)

• Although Stellmach’s therapy background is undeniable; these sessions are not ersatz counselling or therapy

• Participants (consenting adults) need to sign a standard tattooing waiver and follow simple Aftercare instructions. Given the process does not use ink, the aftercare and healing is much simpler.

To date, over 110 people have experienced this process …


The Letting Go: Selfie by Philip, Day 6, Trümmer, Berlin, 2014


As an artistic project, The Letting Go forms part of a long-term research project and archive of our collective vulnerabilities and the human condition – in an attempt to inspire more compassion for our human conundrums.

To keep the project alive and unless for reasons of complete anonymity, I welcome that you share your insights with me through selfies and/or text.


Selfie by Natascha: Day 3, Yesterday, Berlin, 2014


Stellmach hears many secrets: nonetheless in strict confidence, as would a doctor or therapist.  Yet what she discovers can be likened to a mirror of fears and desires. With her artistic intervention she literally does get under the skin. Heinrich Oehmsen | Hamburger Abendblatt (transl.)

Stellmach’s artistic practice is all about transformation. Her tattoo-works, the words that she scribes into the skin of participants – are demons from which they wish to be released. Frédéric Schwilden | Die Welt (transl.)

At the end they all leave the gallery with a smile. After all, it is always a wonderful experience to have overcome ones fears. Ingeborg Ruthe | Berliner Zeitung (transl.)


Participant meditating with Stellmach as part of The Letting Go, Berlin Festival, 2014, photo by Michael Lelliott

1. Stellmach guides the participant through a brief meditation, Berlin Festival 2014, photo by Michael Lelliott

NataschaStellmach-TheLettingGo-FindingTheWord-Photo by Joanna-Sc

2. The Letting Go: Finding ‘the word’, Kunst Galerie Fürth, 2015, photo by Joana Schwender

Stellmach tattoos Grief in German, Berlin Festival, photo by Michael Lelliott

3. Stellmach tattoos ‘the word’, Berlin Festival, 2014, photo by Michael Lelliott


4. The Bloodline Tattoo (here: Bernd’s Philophobie), Galerie Wagner+Partner 2013

Stellmach photographs a participant with her CLING tattoo

5. Stellmach photographs the tattoo, MKG Hamburg 2015


6. The skin heals and the tattoo fades and eventually disappears: Dupe, Day 25, Selfie by Adam, 2016


Performance participation forms part of a public experience with photography and spectators – at no cost to participants. Consultations are kept private/out of earshot. Performances will be announced here and through newsletters (places are limited).

Balcony view of The letting Go performance, MKG Hamburg

Stellmach performing The Letting Go: Finding ‘the word’, Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg, 2015 © Studio Stellmach

Stellmach performing The Letting Go: Finding ‘the word’, Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg, 2015 © Studio Stellmach

©NataschaStellmachThe Letting Go: Mathias's Ernst & Frauke's Kerker, 2015

The Letting Go: Mathias’s Ernst & Frauke’s Kerker, 2015