Maellyn Macintosh is in the process of creating an exciting series of documentaries about tattooing in various cultures, but to complete all of the work that has been created so far she needs backing. You can read more about what Maellyn has created so far and watch a trailer of footage made so far.
In the first episode proposed Maellyn will travel to remote regions of India to document the indigenous tribes who use tattooing and piercing as an essential way of life, for healing, as a form of currency and as a form of religious devotion.
Here is Maellyn’s background to the documentary series so far:
Tattoos, piercing and scarification are now becoming mainstream and the taboos surrounding them are slowly vanishing. But where do they come from and why were they used?
Indigenous communities have cut, coloured, pierced and shaped the body for centuries as part of complex rituals; for identity, beauty, healing, spirituality, coming-of-age ceremonies, and even occasionally as punishments. There are still some communities who live as they did hundreds of years ago but most are being forced to integrate into western society, by threats to their land, resources and customs. Maellyn wants to tell their stories before they are lost forever.
Maellyn became fascinated by body modification while filming with a group of modern body modification artists and performers in London. Her curiosity lead her to begin researching the origins of these practices and in December 2010 she took a camera and made a trip from Kathmandu in Nepal, through Central India to Southern India. In Nepal she met the older tribeswomen with beautiful tattoos, whose grandchildren wouldn’t dream of tattooing in fear of not being offered work. In Central India she met the fascinating Baiga tribe, natives of the forest who use plant medicine in their tattoos, which are also placed on pressure points for healing. The women of this tribe wear their tattoos with pride as they are considered a currency which can be passed on to the next life. She also met the nomadic and elusive Ramnami tribe, a low caste tribe whose facial and full body tattoos bear the name of the upper caste god, Ram.
Now she will return to spend time with these tribes to understand what tattooing means to them, documenting the ceremonies, healings and tattooing process. She will also travel to Orissa to spend time with the spectacular tribes of that region with their beautiful tattoos and piercings.
Maellyn has chosen to crowd-fund the first episode, taking the project one step at a time. If she is able to raise more than the initial stretch goal, this will be used to begin the next episode.
As part of the project she will also create a colourful photography book, to document her travels and the stories of the people she meets, using Lomography cameras to highlight the colourful peoples and bright landscapes of the region. Here are some pictures we took as a test at Seven Seas Tattoos in Eindhoven, The Netherlands (click on the link):
She will also take small instant cameras to give to the communities so that they can document their own practices and have something to keep for themselves. This will be one way to ensure that future generations don’t forget the ways of their ancestors.
For us, this is the start of a long adventure, many journeys and fascinating stories. This is just the beginning, and we are so grateful that you have chosen to be a part of it!
Sublime Frequencies will be presenting Hisham Mayet’s film Vodoun Gods on the Slave Coast next month at London’s Cafe Oto. Hisham Mayet’s exploration of West African possession ceremonies continues in Benin. The cradle and birthplace of Voodoo, Benin was formerly known as the Slave Coast, and most of the slave industry was exported from its shores. Voodoo worship is integral to the every day lives of the people of Benin. This film, shot in 2010 during the country’s rich Vodoun celebrations, is an impressionistic lens on the myriad ceremonies that this rich and diverse culture has to offer. Showcasing intimate observations of a variety of Voodoo ceremonies: The cult of Sakpata (god of pestilence and healing), Egoun dramas shrouded in magisterial costumes and the secret police of the Zangbeto nightwatchmen, among other highlights. This will be the premiere screening of this visual feast.
Mayet will be premiering this brand new film as well as discussing his methodology and that of Sublime Frequencies, a label he founded with Alan and Richard Bishop in 2003. Highlights will include stories of his experiences with the now legendary clutch of Saharan guitar groups (Group Doueh, Bombino, Inerane) he came upon in the region, as well as sharing his many adventures travelling and documenting possession ceremonies in the Sahel for the last 10 years.
You can find out more and book tickets here.
Wednesday 11 December 2013
Door Times : 8pm
18 – 22 Ashwin street
For the first time Bourdin’s work as a painter and his notes on film will be exhibited alongside his famed fashion photographs at this retrospective at the Kunstmeile Hamburg. The photographer’s detached and surreal cinematic style will be celebrated as expected but the exhibition will also show his detailed working method which has led onto him being considered one of the most visionary and important photographer’s in fashion history. Black and White photographs dating back to the 1950s showing portraits of Bourdin and views of the Paris that he lived in alongside sketches and notes will all be on show together. His photographs are known for being an area of which to present the fear of horror movies crossed with the uneasy mystery of a murder films all engulfed in layers of impenetrable glamour where the fashionable object on show becomes highly fetishised. Desire and sex are obsessive themes but he was able to turn around our expected notions of lust as something confusing, something filled with anxiety . There was this aspect of creating hyper-real landscapes in his work, skyless rooms with overpowering colour which resulted in an over all feeling of intense claustrophobia to his photography. These themes contrasted with models who appear so perfectly glamourised but simultaneously anonymous created wonderful but terrifying images.
His photographs will always be highly regarded and receive endless appraisal but what will be especially interesting in this exhibition will be the focus on Bourdin as an individual. His own personal life has been shrouded in as much mystery as his work radiates, dark rumours have always orbited him. The suicide of his wife and two of his girlfriend, his mother abandoning him as an infant and his treatment of the models being unpredictable are well none facts. Hopefully the exhibition will be able to delve into new light about this uncompromising photographer where it opens on the 1st of November as well as being a space to celebrate the importance and innovativeness of him as an artist.
If you haven’t already seen the documentary Dream girls - The photography of Guy Bourdin you can watch it here
You can also find out more details about the exhibition here
1 NOVEMBER 2013 – 26 JANUARY 2014
Coinciding with an exhibition of the same name at the Art Academy of Latvia and Riga Photo Month, Dewi Lewis Publishing presentsVEINS, the collaboration of two of Scandinavia’s most skilled photographic artists, Anders Petersen and Jacob Aue Sobol.
Shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, Petersen is best known for his penetrating human portraits including his 1978 release documenting Café Lehmitz, photographing faces on the fringes of society, from the standard bar propping alcoholics to pimps, prostitutes and transexuals, the images piercing intimacy reminiscent of photographer Brassai or Degas’ L’absinthe; “It is a real challenge,” he says of his private documentary work, “to be present, but maintain the distance.”
The volume sees Petersen’s collaboration with Copenhagen based Sobol, known primarily for his intensely immersive doumentary; his release Sabine saw the photographer spend three years in a small settlement on the east coast of Greenland where he documented the lives of his then girlfriend and her family, living the life of a fisherman and hunter.
VEINS is released on Monday, October 7th
Anders Petersen – Café Lehmitz
Jacob Aue Sobol – Sabine & I, Tokyo
Click here to watch an interview conducted by CBC’s 8th Fire with Inuit filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril about her 2011 documentary Tunnit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos, which examines the lost practice of tattooing amongst Inuit women in Northern Canada.
As Arnaquq-Baril says:
“Tunniit is an intensely personal film. It is about my journey to learn about traditional Inuit women’s face tattoos before getting tattooed myself. However, I think (I hope) it also speaks to a universal desire to feel part of a community. A sense of identity is a necessary foundation for life that is often taken for granted by those who have never had their identity challenged or attacked.
This story takes place in the context of modern Inuit communities that are utterly confused by the staggering cultural changes wrought by the Canadian government, the Christian Church, and the reality of present day globalization. Today, evangelical Christianity is a shockingly strong force in arctic Inuit communities, causing tension around discussing anything that remotely touches on the old spiritual beliefs. The Inuit that attended residential schools, the generation that had their culture beaten out of them, and had their mouths washed out with soap when they spoke their native language – these people are hurting and confused. In some cases, the mere mention of traditional tattoos is enough to send a person into a spitting rage.”
For more information on the film see Unikkaat Studios’s website here.
In his influential work Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Michel Foucault states that “…(crime) is one of the fine arts, because it can be the work only of exceptional natures, because it reveals the monstrousness of the strong and powerful, because villainy is yet another mode of privilege…” (69)
It is with this in mind that one can come to appreciate, if only aesthetically, the heists executed by the international diamond theft ring known as the Pink Panthers. The gang is often lauded for their highly skilled and brazen thefts, which include acts such as wearing floral T-shirts to a robbery and escaping on a high-speed boat to driving limousines through a storefront window.
Havana Marking’s newly released documentary “Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers” examines the history of the Panthers, using interviews and surveillance footage to create what looks to be a compelling portrait of the group. “Smash and Grab” is currently making its rounds worldwide, watch out for it at a theatre near you.
‘Helmut better than anybody was able to explore the unexplored moments of women’s lives, that they really were pictures as if the photographer wasn’t there and he was able to penetrate into intimacy’
We all know of Helmut Newton’s powerfully confident and sexy women but through this documentary, Frames from the Edge (1989) directed by Adrien Maben we see not only the photographer in a new light but also of what he was expressing through his women. Maben follows legendary photographer Helmut Newton from one photo shoot to another as he travels between Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, and Monte Carlo in this superb film. Towards the end of Newton’s career he had achieved an absolute celebrity status (famously dying at the Chateau Marmont in LA in 1994) and through this film it carefully examines how this photographer deals with his fame, talent and how through this combination created an over all air of mystery. His attitudes to his own celebrity are summed up in his quote about living in Los Angeles away from his native Germany by saying that “I’ve been coming here off and on for seventeen years, from December to March. I love Los Angeles, I love Hollywood, I’m not that crazy about San Francisco which pretends to be very European and cultured and all that and I don’t give very much of a shit about culture.”
The general perception of Newton’s subjects may instinctively appear overtly provocative but through this documentary it divulged in to the perspective that these slick and statuesque women were radically independent in their own sexualities. Newton journeyed these women into a space where their fantasy’s were their own, for themselves and no one else. Their appearances and the fetishes that were role played were for no one other than themselves (and of course for Newton) but nevertheless giving women the space to perform and recreate completely real forms of sexuality beyond what is even still now accepted as the norm was truly progressive. It can of course be argued that Newton’s position has objectified his models and conclusively women as a whole but these models never look anything other than in control, powerful and incredibly handsome. This documentary also reveals the desire that so many women had to be transformed into looking and feeling like one of Newton’s muses. The mystery that surrounded these women excluded men, these women were celebrated for being nothing other than themselves and indulging in what they really wanted. As the narrator states in the introduction, Newton’s photographs were from something of the future.
Besides from what the female viewer can get out of Newton’s eroticism his over all aesthetic has been limitlessly influential. Being able to view the way in which Newton shot, selected models and locations is also fascinating.