Skindigenous is a 13-part documentary series exploring Indigenous tattooing traditions around the world. Each episode dives into a unique Indigenous culture to discover the tools and techniques, the symbols and traditions that shape their tattooing art. In this series, the art of tattoo becomes a lens for exploring some of the planet’s oldest cultures and their unique perspectives on life, identity, and the natural world.
The AGA is pleased to screen three episodes of Skindigenous in conjunction with current exhibitions another Landscape show, Marigold Santos: SURFACE TETHER and Boarder X.
Season 1, Episode 1 – Philippines (22 min)
From a remote mountain village in the Northern Philippines, Wang Od Oggay carries on the tattooing tradition of her ancestors, offering those who come to her the sacred markings that were once reserved for the women and warriors of the Kalinga people. Although the Kalinga no longer practice the headhunting for which they were once known, Whang Od’s art stands as a tangible reminder of the way things were and a potent force through which the past survives in a new guise. Now approaching one hundred years of age, Whang Od has been training her great-niece and others in the art of tattoo, in hopes that it will live on for generations to come.
Season 1, Episode 2 – Alberta (22 min)
Métis artist Amy Malbeuf’s insatiable appetite for new creative outlets has led her to work in many artistic fields, including traditional Indigenous tattooing. Indigenous teachings and traditions are, for Amy, a foundation from which she can follow her boundless inspiration and innovation. When it comes to tattooing, however, Amy feels the need to practice the traditional methods developed by her ancestors, specifically the skin stitch technique of using a needle and thread to weave designs into the skin. Whereas Amy sees her work in the visual arts as deeply personal, she considers her work as a tattoo artist a “service to others,” and a direct contribution to the preservation of lived Indigenous culture in the contemporary world.
Season 1, Episode 6 – Newfoundland (22 min)
Jordan Bennett is an artist of Mi’kmaq descent whose work blends pop culture and traditional teachings into work that connects the past, the present and the future. Drawing on Mi’kmaq and Beothuk symbols and designs, he is playing an active role in the re-emergence of Indigenous culture on the East Coast and across Canada. His tattooing methods include the skin stitch technique using needle and thread, and the hand poke using a single hand-wielded needle. For him, these techniques are tools for bringing to light that which was kept in the dark for too long, allowing Indigenous people to express their pride by uniting their bodies with their culture in a powerful affirmation.