I am excited to finally present the official call out for tattoo collaborators for my Nlaka’pamux Blackwork project.
Nlaka’pamux Blackwork is part of a larger Canada Council for the Arts grant entitled Taking Nlaka’pamux Tattooing to the World. Over the past ten years I have been exploring my passion for tattooing as art and craft, using traditional hand tattooing methods and electric tattoo machines. I have traveled both virtually and physically to museum collections and databases to find inspiration from my ancestral visual and material culture, I have ventured out onto the land and discovered the messages left on the rocks by my ancestors and read as much written material as I can find. This past year I have been transforming the knowledge I have gained into a contemporary Nlaka’pamux Blackwork tattoo language that turns the human body into a canvas for the reimagining of Nlaka’pamux tattooing.
This is the official call out for collaborators who wish to take on the challenge and commit to the journey of transforming themselves through Nlaka’pamux Blackwork.
I am endeavouring to translate Nlaka’pamux visual language into the creation of Nlaka’pamux tattoo bodysuits, full sleeves, back and chest pieces. This is an exploration of how our visual language can be stretched to fit the curvature and movement of the human form. The result will be an innovation through the creation of a contemporary interpretation of Nlaka’pamux tattooing that mixes aesthetics from historic Japanese and contemporary tribal and blackwork tattooing genres. As I explored in my January 7th, 2020 blog post entitled The Creation and Presentation of Nlaka’pamux Blackwork, the creation of Nlaka’pamux Blackwork as an innovation and evolution of Nlaka’pamux tattooing is an answer to the question; how do I share this ancestral, cultural embodied artistic practice with those who are not Nlaka’pamux?
I am seeking Nlaka’pamux and non Nlaka’pamux, Indigenous and non Indigenous collaborators to undertake full bodysuits (will be given priority), full torso, back, chest or leg and arm sleeves of my creation. Your life story, wishes and dreams for the future will be taken into account in the creation of your Nlaka’pamux Blackwork tattoo. Designs and motifs will be used in the transformation of your body into a work of Nlaka’pamux art, as a prayer, a declaration, and an embodiment of my ancestor’s resilience.
I am commissioning you as a participant and tattooee of Nlaka’pamux Blackwork to embody and become a walking demonstration of my work.
I will be providing travel from wherever you are, to Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada. Providing accommodation, per diem, and honorarium for you during the creation of the tattoos, if you are chosen to as a collaborator.
Let me say that again in a different way, I will pay for you to come here and stay for a few days to a week at a time with scheduled drawing/designing days, tattooing days and rest days included. There will be a rigorous application and vetting process to ensure all tattooees are committed to the project. A commitment will be expected from you to finish the project and I offer a commitment to work carefully, generously and graciously with you as we collaborate together and bring Nlaka’pamux Blackwork to life.
Your bodysuit or Nlaka’pamux Blackwork tattoo will be documented from beginning to end by a professional videographer and at the end of your tattoo a professional photographer will take your portrait and document your tattoos. The video documentation will be used as part of a documentary film and or gallery exhibition and the photos will be used in an exhibition and part of a book documenting the process.
If you are interested please fill out the attached application forms fully, and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Only fully completed forms that are sent to the mentioned email will be accepted.
If you have further questions please don’t hesitate to reach out at email@example.com, only serious collaborators will be considered. You must be 18 years of age to be considered and you must be prepared to endure a painful transformation. As my Mi’kmaq tattoo artist friend Gordon Sparks says, to “give a blood and pain sacrifice,” for the marks you will carry for the rest of your life.
I am blessed to have the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the IOTA Institute, which has allowed me the time to research and develop this project.
I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts