Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, celebrating its 10th anniversary, announces the leading-edge exhibition BODY LANGUAGE: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest, running June 8, 2018 – January 13, 2019. Until the 1885 potlatch ban, tattooing and piercing were integral to Northwest Indigenous cultures as a way to mark identity and social status. This premiere exhibition, led by guest curator Dion Kaszas (Nlaka’pamux, Hungarian, Métis), traces the history and meaning of traditional tattooing and piercing practices, and explores their contemporary revival.
BODY LANGUAGE features five Northwest Indigenous cultural tattoo practitioners: Nakkita Trimble (Nisga’a), Nahaan (Tlingit), Corey Bulpitt (Haida), Dean Hunt (Heiltsuk), and guest curator Dion Kaszas (Nlaka’pamux). Each of these contemporary artists is researching and reclaiming the traditional techniques of their Nations, and building awareness of the significance and protocols around the tattooing traditions.
For millennia, Indigenous tattooing and piercing have been central to ceremony and recognize special life events, potlatches, and social rank within Northwest Indigenous communities. After they were banned, these personal crests were transferred to clothing and jewellery. BODY LANGUAGE explores designs on skin, and their relationship to traditional clothing, rock art, jewellery, basketry, and weaving. This exhibition will also reveal how these traditions, as they re-emerge, transcend mere decoration to provide healing, protection, and a profound sense of belonging.
Since 2012, Kaszas has helped spearhead the revival of tattooing in the Northwest of North America. He recently received his Masters degree in Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan and co-founded the Earthline Tattoo Collective with Jordan Bennett (Mi’kmaq) and Amy Malbeuf (Cree/Métis) to enhance, expand, and support the work of traditional and cultural Indigenous tattoo practices. Dion Kaszas has also travelled internationally to participate and present on his own practice within the global revival of Indigenous tattooing.
To complement the exhibition, the Bill Reid Gallery is pleased to offer the following public programs:
Stitching Ourselves Back Together Symposium | Friday, June 8, 2018 | 9:30am – 4pm
Join us for a full day symposium exploring the history, revival and contemporary concerns around cultural tattooing. Registration required. Lunch included.
Live Tattooing in the Gallery | Saturday, June 9, 2018 | 11am – 4pm
Artists from the exhibition will demonstrate their techniques and chat about their process.
Bill Reid Gallery presents BODY LANGUAGE: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest
Dates: June 8, 2018 – January 13, 2019
Address: Bill Reid Gallery 639 Hornby St Vancouver, BC, V6C 2G3
Photo by Aaron Leonen