Philippine Photographer Jake Verzosa called on Ambassador Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek on 23 January 2017 and presented the Embassy with a copy of his book “The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga.” The book was recently chosen as one of the recipients of the “Steidl Book Award Asia” by renowned German designer, curator and publisher Gerhard Steidl alongside other books by photographers from India, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China. Winners traveled to Göttingen, Germany in January 2017 to work on the publication of their books which will be released collectively as “8 Books for Asia” later this year.
Today, some of the most renowned photographers and artists across the globe are part of the Steidl program, including Joel Sternfeld, Bruce Davidson, Robert Frank, Robert Adams, Karl Lagerfeld, Lewis Baltz, Ed Ruscha, Roni Horn, and Juergen Teller, to name but a few.
“The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga”, presented a poetic romanticism of a seemingly dying tattoo culture among Kalinga women. In the photographer’s words, “the main purpose of doing this was to document the last remaining people who adorn these tattoos and to hopefully reverse the changing perception of beauty among the Kalinga. The tattoos used to be a symbol of beauty, wealth, and honor but now, most see them as ancient, barbaric, and a stigma.”
Vogue International editor Suzy Menkes lauded this particular series at Paris Photo 2014. “Naked arms in pictures of aged tattooed skin taken in the Philippines. Jake Verzosa’s digital black-and-white prints… showed women whose skin seemed to be patterned as if by a lacy sweater… It’s at one hand historical and on the other a sort of poetry unfolding as a record for posterity.”
The book´s first edition was published by Silverlens, and had its grand launch at the international fine art photography fair, Paris Photo, in 2014. END