Artforum reports today that Wim Delvoye's latest artwork, for his next exhibition at the Zurich gallery de Pury & Luxembourg, is a tattooed human being. A Swiss man named Tim Steiner has had his back tattooed according to a design by Delvoye, who also signed the work. If purchased, the owner of the work will have the right to view Steiner's back regularly, and also to exhibit it. After his death, his tattooed skin will be removed and given to the owner.
Wim Delvoye has been tattooing pigs since the 1990s, outraging both the left (who allege that it is cruel to the animal, despite the fact that by being tattooed the pigs are kept alive instead of eaten) and the right (who likely find it ridiculous). More recently a tattooed pigs project was set up in the Art Farm in China, where there are fewer laws regarding animal welfare.
Santiago Sierra proposed a work in 1998 called Person Paid to Have 30cm Line Tattooed on Them and was horrified as to how easy it was to see realized. He stopped using people in his work for a full year.
Piero Manzoni signed human beings as artworks in 1961.