Te Papa is open. Visiting Te Papa under Alert Level 2
Kei te tuwhera a Te Papa. Te toronga mai ki Te Papa i raro i te Pae Mataara 2

Powerful photographs of Sāmoan tattooing on show at Te Papa

Wed 16 Oct 2019

An exhibition opening in Te Papa’s Toi Art in November gives an intimate insight into the unique cultural practice of Sāmoan tattooing.

Tatau: Sāmoan Tattooing and Photography presents the work of four photographers who have documented Sāmoan tattooing over the past 40 years in New Zealand, Sāmoa, the United States, and Europe.

Works by Mark Adams, Greg Semu, John Agcaoili, and Angela Tiatia portray the globalisation of tatau and the varied contexts and interpretations of Sāmoan tattooing.

From intimate domestic scenes in suburban garages to street photography, and in relation to themes of religious iconography and female sexuality, the exhibition presents diverse perspectives on tatau.

The exhibition follows the multi-award-winning 2018 book Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing published by Te Papa Press, and co-authored by Te Papa’s Sean Mallon and French anthropologist Sebastien Galliot.

In addition to over 50 photographs, Tatau: Sāmoan Tattooing and Photography will include a small selection of indigenous Sāmoan tattooing tools. The use of the tools are a distinctive part of Sāmoan tattooing, and offer a tangible connection to the past and to the age-old processes of making tatau.

Sean Mallon, Senior Curator Pacific Cultures says this exhibition will reflect on how powerful and distinctive tatau is within society.

“Tatau gives Sāmoans a rich resource to pin their sense of cultural identity to. Tatau: Sāmoan Tattooing and Photography highlights how four photographers have used tatau as a medium to explore themes such as place, identity and colonial history.”

Renowned photographer Mark Adams has documented Sāmoan tattooing in New Zealand since the late 1970s. His connections with his subjects are displayed through the intimate domestic settings within his photographs. Adam’s images portray tatau in suburban New Zealand; within living rooms and garages, on bloodstained cushions and mats.

Greg Semu, a New Zealand born Sāmoan photographer has created striking self-portraits documenting his 25-year journey as a tataued man. Beginning as a street photographer capturing the lives of the growing Polynesian community in Auckland, Semu went on to document his own tatau, capturing the lines and designs of his unique journey. Semu’s work has also expanded to restaging historical events by incorporating his tattooed body in the reimagining and retelling of cinematic landscapes and religious iconography.

Based in California, photographer and cinematographer John Agcaoili has documented the work of the present generation of Sāmoan tattooists, many of whom use tattooing machines. The selection of portraits included in this exhibition shed light on tatau as an evolving art form, contextualising the ancient lines of tatau within a contemporary tattooing studio and urban settings.

Within her work Walking the Wall, artist Angela Tiatia explores the relationship between the female body as a fetishised object and her identity as a Sāmoan woman. By openly displaying her malu (female-specific tattoo) within this moving image work, Tiatia confronts a Sāmoan cultural taboo while embracing symbols of female sexuality and challenging gender stereotypes.

9 Nov 2019 – 7 Jun 2020

Toi Art, Level 4

Free entry

tepapa.nz/tatau

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Images with captions and credits

Media contact

Clare Callaghan, Communications Advisor
clare.callaghan@tepapa.govt.nz
021 541 343


ʻO ni ata maoaʻe o le tā tatau a Sāmoa ʻoloʻo faʻaalia i le Falemātaʻaga a Te Papa

ʻO le tatalaga aloaʻia o se faʻaaliga i le Te Papa’s Toi Art ʻiā Novema ʻo le ʻā maimoaina ai se vaʻaiga māfana tūtasi i le faʻatinoga o le tā tatau a Sāmoa.

E fiafia lenei polokalame ʻua taʻua o le Tatau: Tā Tatau a Sāmoa ma Ata, e faʻailoa atu gāluega a ni tagata puʻe ata e toʻafā ʻua latou faʻamaumauina i ata ma tala le tatau a Sāmoa e ʻāmata mai le fasefulu tausaga ʻua tuanaʻi, i atunuʻu o Niu Sila, Sāmoa, ʻAmerika ma ʻEuropa.

ʻO gāluega a Mark Adams, Greg Semu, John Agcaoili ma Angela Tiatia, ʻua iloa ai le salalau i le kelope o le tatau a Sāmoa i ona vaega ʻeseʻese ma ona faʻauigaga ʻae faʻapea foʻi ma ona suiga.

E ʻāmata mai lava i ata o le māfana o mafutaga faʻaleʻāiga i totonu o o latou faletaʻavale e oʻo atu i ata e puʻe i alatetele, faʻapēnā foʻi ata o vaega ʻeseʻese o matāʻupu tau le agaga ma kenera tau tamaʻitaʻi, ʻua faʻailoa ʻuma mai nei ituʻaiga vaega ʻeseʻese i le tatau.

ʻUa faʻavae lenei faʻaaliga i le tusi e tele ona faʻailoga na manumālō ai i le 2018 e taʻua ʻo le Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing na lōmia e Te Papa Press, ma na tusia faʻatasi e Sean Mallon ma le aliʻi suʻesuʻe mai Falani ʻo Sebastien Galliot.

Faʻatasi ai ma ata e sili atu i le 50 i le tusi Tatau: Samoan Tattooing and Photography, e iai foʻi ni nai au, ʻo mea faigāluega o le tātatau a Sāmoa. E faʻaaogā au e faʻatino ai ma lauiloa ai ʻo le tā tatau a Sāmoa, ma fai foʻi latou ma pine faʻamau ma faʻailo e fesoʻotaʻi ai nei ma le taimi tuanaʻi o gāluega e faʻasino i le taina o le tatau.

Na saunoa le susuga a Sean Mallon, ʻo le aliʻi sinia tausimea a Aganuu Pasefika, ʻo lenei faʻaaliga ʻoleʻā sulugia ai le tūtasi ma le lausilafia o le tatau i le maitau a tagata.

“ʻUa ʻavea le tatau ma alagāʻoa e taulaʻi ʻi ai lagona o le faʻasinomaga Sāmoa o tagata Sāmoa. ʻUa faʻapupula aloaʻia i le Tatau: Samoan Tattooing and Photography le faʻaaogāina e le ʻaupuʻeata e toʻafā o le tatau e fai ma ʻauala e saʻili ai matāʻupu e pei o nofoaga, faʻasinomaga ma talaʻaga o le faʻakoloneina.”

Na ʻāmata i le vaitaimi o le 1970 ona faʻamaumauina e le puʻeata o Mark Adams le tā tatau a Sāmoa i Niu Sila. ʻO lona galue vāvālalata ma i latou na ia puʻea ata, ʻua matuā fofola mai i vaʻaiga māfana i ana ata. ʻUa vaʻaia i ana ata le tatau i Niu Sila i totonu o ona ʻaʻai; i totonu o potu mālōlō ma faletaʻavale, ma luga o ʻaluga nofoa ʻua pīsia i le toto faʻatasi ma fala.

ʻO se puʻeata Sāmoa na fānau i Niu Sila e igoa ia Greg Semu ʻua tā lana tatau ma na ia gaosia ni ona ata mātagōfie e faʻamaumau ai lana savaliga i le 25 tausaga o lana faigāmalaga o se tagata ʻua laʻeiina le tatau. Na ʻāmata i lona puʻeina o ata o tagata Polenisia i alatetele i Aukilani ʻina ʻua faʻatoʻateleina i latou, ʻona faʻaauau ai lea i ata o lana tatau, ma faʻamaumau iloga ai o lana savaliga tūtasi. ʻUa faʻalauteleina lenei gāluega a Semu e aofia ai le toe faʻaalia o talaʻaga suʻi faʻatasi ma ata o lana tatau ma mea tau laufanua ʻoloʻo i ata tīfaga ma faʻatusa o mea tau le agaga/faʻalelotu.

ʻO le puʻeata faitīfaga o John Agcaolli e nofo i Kalifonia, ma ʻua ia faʻamaumauina gāluega a le ʻautufuga tā tatau o aso nei, ma ʻo le toʻatele e faʻaaogaina masini tā tatau. ʻO ata nei ʻua filifilia ʻua faʻapupula mai ai fesuiaʻiga tuputupu pea i le tatau, e aliali ai pea ona mamanu māsani i totonu o se siʻosiʻomaga fou i fale tā tatau o onapōnei.

I lana gāluega o le Walking the Wall, ʻoloʻo iloilo loloto ai e Angela Tiatia le vā o le tino tamaʻitaʻi ʻua ʻavea ma mea e faʻaosooso lagona ma lona ia faʻasinomaga ʻo se tamaʻitaʻi Sāmoa. ʻUa ia faʻaaogā lana malu i totonu o le siʻosiʻomaga lea e luʻitauina ai se tapu a Sāmoa ʻae ʻua taumafai ai e opogi ni faʻailo tau kenera o tamaʻitaʻi, ma luʻi ai ni faʻatusaga māsani lē saʻo (stereotypes) o kenera.

Aso 9 Novema 2019 – 7 Iuni 2020

Fogāfale 4 o le Toi Art

E ulufua

tepapa.nz/tatau

L‘UGA