Stars for prisoners
Tattooed stars were symbols for prisoners. At first, only prisoners and sailors were tattooed.
Tattoos were like prisons for outsiders: they instilled fear and respect.
It was a different story inside the prison walls: the symbolism of prison tattoos tell life stories.
Who is a good guy and who did what.
Everyone in Finland knows who musician Henry ”Remu” Aaltonen is. All of the tattoos of the legendary Hurriganes frontman were made in prison. He was incarcerated four times between 1962 and 1987. Since he was little, Remu had admired his uncle’s prison tattoos and decided that, some day, he would also have a tattoo. The star was his first one. It was etched into his right arm in Katajanokka prison when he was 16. Stars are typical prison tattoos. More points would be added to the stars with every new stint in prison. Outside prison, Remu covers his tattoos from prying eyes.
The other star of our tattoo exhibition is Pertti ”Poitsu” Stenman. He has been to prison five times between 1983 and 1998, a total of 11 years and eight months. According to Poitsu, he thought about getting a tattoo for a long time. In the end, he wanted a tattoo, because it is an integral part of the criminal identity. Poitsu still has his prison tattoo, which covers his entire back. It is unfinished, like most prison tattoos. Poitsu is not planning on finishing the tattoo, because he has sworn to not let anyone besides his friend, who started it, to work on it. His friend is now dead.
The Prison’s tattoo exhibition is on the ground floor.