Photo of Durga tattooing at the the 1st Traditional Tattoo Camp.
The recent tattoo news hit everything from indigenous tattoo practices worldwide to, well, the worst headlines ever...
One of my favorite stories was coverage, including great photos, of the 1st Traditional Tattoo Camp, which took place last month, in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia. The event was organized by our friend Durga, who has worked tirelessly on the revival of Mentawai tattoo traditions. Durga and his crew hosted a select group of artists at the camp from around the world in a celebration of tattoo culture. Here's a bit from the Daily Mail article:
The festival earlier this month in Maguwoharjo village in Java's cultural heartland gathered people from across Indonesia and the world at the studio of celebrated Indonesian tattoo artist Durga, a leading figure in the revival. Durga has championed tattoos from the western Mentawai islands, home to a semi-nomadic tribespeople famed for their body art and the practice of sharpening their teeth, which they believe makes them more beautiful.The indigenous practices of Inuit tattooing were the focus of this CBC News article (sent by our friend Brayden Wise). The piece looks at Alethea Arnaquq-Baril's film Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos, which follows her journey to learn about traditional Inuit women's face tattoos before getting tattooed herself. What's particularly interesting is the discussion of Arnaquq-Baril's hesitation to screen her film to non-Inuit audiences for fear of cultural appropriation. Here's more:
Through interviews with elders across Nunavut, Arnaquq-Baril's film describes how the practice of tattooing women, which she says used to be nearly universal, was all but stamped out in just one generation as a result of the concerted efforts of Christian missionaries.
More on Inuit tattooing can be found in Lar Krutak's Tattoo Traditions of Native North America, in which Arnaquq-Baril is also featured.
Samoan tatau is the subject of this OC Register article, which looks at the work of Si'i Liufau, owner of A Town Tattoos, who learned the traditions from the Sulu'ape family -- the name most associated with tatau revival. There's some interesting talk of melding the old with the new:
Instead of using the traditional tools, for health safety Liufau fashions a modern version from stainless steel and plexiglass, which he makes for each customer. It takes about 30 minutes to craft the tool.
I really enjoyed reading how these revivals are taking shape, making it a great tattoo news week!
In other news ...
David Bowie's death on the 10th inspired many tributes to the artist, including tattoos, (like the one below). I posted a couple Bowie portraits on Instagram, and you can find more via #davidbowietattoo.
Forbes covers the recent case that finds tattooing is artistic expression protected by the First Amendment. Check my breakdown of the Buehrle v. City of Key West case.
A slideshow of last weekend's Minneapolis Tattoo Arts Convention can be found on the Star Tribune site.
Finally, some headlines that were so bad, I couldn't ignore them:
* "This British Man Has a Large Rim Job Tattoo on His Back, No Really."
* "NY Mom Arrested After Allegedly Tattooing 'Ride or Die' on 12-Year-Old Son's Hand"
David Bowie tattoo by Chris Jones.
This month's Smithsonian Magazine features an article by Abigail Tucker on photojournalist Chris Rainer entitled "Looking at the World's Tattoos."
[I became an instant fan of Rainer in 2006 when I bought his gorgeous photography book Ancient Marks: The Sacred Art of Tattooing & Body Marking.]
The article looks at Rainer's experience, from his time spent as Ansel Adams' last assistant in the 80s to his first introduction to traditional tattooing and how that informed a body of work that explores the art across the globe from Borneo to Burning Man. Here's what Tucker says of the photographer's start:
"Like his mentor, Rainier is primarily a black-and-white photographer. Unlike Adams, however, he is less captivated by landscapes than by the topography of the body, and he specialized in portraits. In the 1990s, while traveling the world to chronicle waning indigenous cultures, he got interested in traditional tattooing--which has cropped up from Greenland to Thailand at one time or another--and its sister art, scarification, a cutting practice more common in West Africa and elsewhere. Some of those customs, Rainier says, are dying out as modernization penetrates even remote areas."
A slideshow of select images from Rainer's tattoo-focused work accompanies the article.
The article also discusses the upcoming film Tattoo Odyssey, which will air on the Smithsonian channel on September 26th. In it, Rainer visits the Mentawai people in a remote village on the Indonesian island of Siberut. There he sets out to document their ancient tattoo ritual as it rapidly disappears.
Thanks to Father Panik for the link.