Two Exhibitions featuring the art of Tatua, Closing September 25, 2010

TATAU: Symmetry Harmony and Beauty
Semisi Fetokai Potauaine. Commonwealth Connections International Artist in Residence 2010

TATAU: Samoan Tattooing / Global Culture
Closes September 25, 2010
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, UK

Semisi is a multi-media artist from Tonga. His background is in architecture. Now his work ranges from sculpture through graphic design to weaving and tattooing.

In Tonga, the term Tatau has lots of meanings. It includes saying hello or goodbye; an argument and a handshake; and tattooing. Semisi views these as intersected lines, and works with these concepts as lines that define their surrounding space or lines intersecting space to create harmony and beauty.

Semisi's work responds through a range of media to this concept and practice and its reflection on the physical, mental, and social realms.

Through exploring MAA's Tongan collections, Semisi will create multi-dimensional forms that will be displayed in the Maudslay Gallery over the summer months.

TATAU: Samoan Tattooing / Global Culture

This exhibition is a revelation of a spectacular Polynesian body art – the tattoo tradition of Samoa. For centuries peoples across the Pacific have decorated their bodies with dynamic tattoo designs. In Samoa Tufuga ta Tatau or ‘Priests of Tattoo’ have continued, up to the present, to use customary tools to create the pe’a, the elaborate male tattoo, and the malu, the women’s equivalent.

For over 25 years Mark Adams, one of New Zealand’s most distinguished photographic artists, recorded the work of his friend Paulo Sulu’ape, the pre-eminent figure in modern Samoan tattooing. Sulu’ape was remarkable for taking the art beyond the Samoan community and beyond Samoa’s shores. Tatau not only flourished among Samoan migrants in New Zealand, it became famous among the international tattoo community. This exhibition tracks tatau, from Samoan homes in New Zealand to Amsterdam and beyond.

An evocation of an extraordinary art, the Tatau exhibition draws attention to surprising cross-currents in the globalization of culture, and confronts photography with its own history of voyeurism and ‘othering’.

Tatau’s opening will be marked by a symposium featuring a conversation between the photographer, Mark Adams, tattooist and friend of Sulu’ape, Michel Thieme, and Nicholas Thomas, anthropologist and editor of Tattoo and many other books on Pacific art and culture. The programme will include a screening of Tatau: a Journey by Samoan filmmaker Lisa Taouma, and the UK launch of Tatau: Photographs by Mark Adams (Te Papa Press, 2010), the definitive publication of Adams’ photographic series.

For more information, please visit the MAA website.