THE LAST TATTOOED WOMEN OF KALINGA
40 photographs | 112 pages | 8.2 x 10 inches
Chipboard cover, thread-sewn open case bind
Offset printing on semi coated paper
First edition, 500 copies
LAST 9 COPIES AVAILABLE :
The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga is the receipient of the Steidl Book Award Asia.
Gerhard Steidl is without doubt a globetrotter in all things photobook. He visits artists, curates exhibitions and gives lectures on his passion of passions: bookmaking. And on his travels he’s been again and again amazed by the great interest shown – particularly by young booklovers –in the often declared-dead medium of the book. In spring 2016 Steidl initiated the exhibition “1001 Steidl Books” at DECK in Singapore. Here DECK, an independent platform for art and photography, transformed its exhibition modules, rough forty-foot sea freight containers, into a library. The result was an exhibition of a thousand books, through which a decade of bookmaking (2005–2015) was laid bare for all to see: layout, typography, paper, printing, binding. On the occasion of the exhibition artists from all across Asia were invited to submit book dummies for a new competition, the Steidl Book Award Asia. From the many books Gerhard Steidl finally chose eight: “The submissions were all so strong, so surprising and varied, that it would have been unfair to just choose one.” And as with every Steidl book, the award winners will travel to Göttingen to make their books. Together with art director Theseus Chan and Gerhard Steidl, in January 2017 they will design their books and be present as the sheets roll off the press. All eight books will be published in a box with the title 8 Books for Asia. The award winners are: Broy Lim (Singapore) And Now They Know, Jake Verzosa (the Philippines) The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga, Jongwoo Park (South Korea) DMZ, Kapil Das (India) Lumpy Gravy, Robert Zhao (Singapore) A Guide to Flora and Fauna of the World, Woong Soak Teng (Singapore) Ways to Tie Trees, Yukari Chikura (Japan) fluorite fantasia, and Zhang Lijie (China) Midnight Tweedle.
Second edition will be out Summer 2017.
Vogue International editor Suzy Menkes lauded this particular series at last year’s Paris Photo. “Naked arms in pictures of aged tattooed skin taken in the Philippines. Jake Verzosa’s digital black-and-white prints, brought together as The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga at Silverlens, showed women whose skin seemed to be patterned as if by a lacy sweater.” It’s at one hand historical, and on the other a sort of poetry unfolding as a record for posterity.
In The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga, Jake Verzosa weaves a very delicate balance of incorporating history’s desire to render a record of a particular culture and milieu. There is a poetic romanticism in trying to capture a dying culture. In the photographer’s words, “the main purpose of doing this was to document the last remaining people who adorn these tattoos and to hopefully reverse the changing perception of beauty among the Kalinga. The tattoos used to be a symbol of beauty, wealth, and honor but now, most see them as ancient, barbaric, and a stigma.”
The women in this series reveal unfeigned beauty that seeps through a deep tradition of honor, bravery, wealth, and beauty. Each subject speaks of a certain regard to Verzosa’s lens which both unveils or decodes a particular mystery about the Kalinga tribe, and masks other actualities alongside them. To this day little is known about this longstanding tradition of the Kalingas. This particular tradition goes beyond personal, sociological, and philosophical ideologies that are being consigned to oblivion. Verzosa’s series delicately puts an attempt to disrupt the cycle and to create a chronicle of a dying tradition of an oft-misunderstood tribe.
The project came into being in 2010 and has come to evolve on its own through the years. Verzosa says this project “is an important document of our time.” It may seem a seemingly simple attempt at keeping a record of a dying tradition and culture, a contemporary sort of lamentation while at the same time a celebratory attempt. Furthermore, it’s also a riveting narrative on beauty. These tattoos signify the pain of beauty as they are done through an arduous process, but they also become testimonies and a sort of triumph for these women. On the outset, what seems like women with tattooed skins patterned as if by a lacy sweater delicately unveil their own particular story, their own particular struggle, and their own particular triumph as seen through these intricate etchings on their skins.
The series is accompanied by a book of the same title, published by Silverlens, which had its grand launch at Paris Photo 2014.