On the weekend, 33 tattooists from around the world took part in Indigenous Ink 2015 – a tattooing festival held in Auckland at MIT Manukau. Te Papa was there at the invitation of organiser Terry Koloamatangi Klavenes. I had a small role hosting presentations and conversations among the tattooists and their supporters. It was a privilege to listen to a diverse group of artists talk about their experiences as artists and activists for their cultures.
As a follow up to my previous post, I thought I’d share a few images and key messages from the tattooists at Indigenous Ink – a collation of my social media posts on the weekend.
“I was not a tattooist first…I was a cultural person first…” Sulu’ape Keone Nunes (kahuna ka kākau (tattoo artist) Hawaii
On developing skills with hand tap tools…“You have to let the tools teach you…” “In the right hands traditional work is less painful than the machines… and quicker…” Keone Nunes (kahuna ka kākau (tattoo artist) Hawaii
On the resurgence of ta moko among Maori…“Anything cultural is an affront to the status quo…” Rangi Kipa (ta moko artist/carver) Aotearoa/New Zealand
On Tlingit skin stitching and the significance of tattooing…“We had a bone awl and sinew dipped in ash…” “For tattoos, we can’t just take them off and put them in a box, or in the closet…it’s our regalia. When I see them I remember “That’s first, this is first…” “Looking at the history of these things, helps me question where we are today…” Nahaan (Pacific Northwest America)
On Samoan tatau, innovation in tool design and safe tattooing practices…“Hygiene is important in all our practices… we can keep the same methods but the idea is to be safe for everyone.” “This is an investment for my people…” Lawrence Ah Ching (tufuga ta tatau) Samoa
On the resurgence of tattooing among Inuit women….“Our plan with tupik mi [tattooing] is to bring it back with an apprentice program for Alaskan women…” Holly Mititquq Nordlum
“We don’t just want the iconography, we want the culture to survive…” “it is time to be crazy brave… we have started a fever…” Maya Sialuk Jacobsen
On Indigenous Ink …“Indigenous Ink is about bringing all these amazing artists from around the world to celebrate indigenous tattoo, art and culture…” Terry Koloamatangi Klavenes (tattooist and convener of Indigenous Ink – since 2011)
Congratulations to Terry, Chantal and their family and friends for creating a space for indigenous art and voices to thrive and people to connect. I am grateful to Terry for the invitation to contribute to this important event. Great venue at MIT Manukau too…in the heart of the community. Finally, these three women were sitting outside Indigenous Ink as I departed for home…when I asked them for a quick photograph they said “can we hold up our book?”