Tatau: Samoan Tattoo, New Zealand Art, Global Culture
- About the Book
When Tatau was first published in 2010, Mark Adams’ renowned images documenting a great Polynesian art tradition were a revelation. Mostly taken between 1978 and 2005, these photographs recorded the contemporary expressions of tatau (tattoo) and told the story of the late Sulu’ape Paulo II, the preeminent figure of modern Samoan tattooing. A brilliantly innovative and often controversial man, he saw tatau as an art of international importance. Tatau documented his practice, and that of other tufuga ta tatau (tattoo artists), and interpreted it within the contexts of Polynesian tattooing, Samoan migrant communities, and New Zealand art.
As in the original edition, the book is also concerned with what photographer Mark Adams has done with tatau. His images provide powerful and indeed moving records of certain times and people, some of whom have now passed on. Yet, despite their documentary nature, his images do much more than record a technique of body decoration or a scene around it. They ask tough questions of the scene and its history—questions that may inevitably remain unanswered. And, despite their virtuosity, the images exude a certain discomfort with the business of cross-cultural image making, with its histories, and with New Zealand’s culture and politics.
Long out-of-print, this revised and extended edition, with its handsome larger format and texts by distinguished scholars, makes a cultural treasure available once more.
- About the Author(s)
Mark Adams, AuthorMark Adams is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s foremost documentary photographers. His work has been extensively exhibited in Aotearoa, Australia, South Africa and Europe and at Brazil’s São Paulo biennale.
Mark Adams, PhotographerMark Adams is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s foremost documentary photographers. His work has been extensively exhibited in Aotearoa, Australia, South Africa and Europe and at Brazil’s São Paulo biennale.
Sean Mallon, AuthorSean Mallon is of Samoan (Iva and Mulivai, Safata) and Irish (Belfast) descent. He is Senior Curator Pacific Cultures at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, where he specialises in the social and cultural history of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa. He is the author, with Sébastien Galliot, of the award-winning Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing (2018).
Peter Brunt, AuthorPeter Brunt is of Samoan and English descent, with ancestral connections to Lano, Vaiala and Bedfordshire. He is Associate Professor of Art History at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, where he teaches and researches the visual arts of the Pacific, focusing on the role of art in mediating cross-cultural encounters. With Nicholas Thomas he co-curated the major 2018 exhibition Oceania at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris.
Nicholas Thomas, AuthorNicholas Thomas is Professor of Historical Anthropology and Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. His most recent book is Voyagers: the settlement of the Pacific (2020). He co-curated the major 2018 exhibition Oceania at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris, with Peter Brunt.