Sunday, 22 September 2013

Tattoo exhibition proposal, round 1

Corey Thomas' dragon tattoo actually started as a tiny shamrock 8 years ago at a flea market. 

Well, it seems everywhere I go the tattoo tribes besiege me and I am being asked about the project and its status.  It is this simple:  last week Ned Pratt and I submitted to Eastern Edge Gallery an exhibition proposal.  Mary MacDonald advised me that about 100 submissions were received from right across Canada, which I think is great news for the gallery.  But it means tough competition for only 5 exhibition spots.  The exhibition committee will have its work cut out for them.  Eastern Edge says it will have results for us in about a month.

Here's an excerpt for the one-page required:

Curatorial Proposal:  More than Skin Deep
An exhibition and publication by Ned Pratt and Gloria Hickey

"None of us got tattooed so we could blend in." Dave Munro

This exhibition is situated at the crossroads of personal narrative and visual culture.  More than Skin Deep is an exploration of the tattoo culture of St. John's – its motifs and personalities –as revealed through a series of portraits by photographer Ned Pratt and a major essay by independent curator Gloria Hickey. We believe Eastern Edge Gallery is the best venue for this project. As an artist run centre it is "closer to the street" and more akin to the forces that shape the creative world and energy of tattoo culture.  The photographs will be presented in concert with gallery programming that provides the public with an opportunity to speak about their own tattoos and learn how they fit in the larger context of visual culture of the province. The essay traces the shift of the tattoo, as self-expression and a marker of affiliation, from the margins of society to the mainstream.

I joke that I know how obsessed I am by tattoos when it governs even my choice of movies, like Elysium.  Normally I am not a Matt Damon fan.

In terms of the work that Ned and I have been doing together, it has been geared towards the exhibition proposal.  There's a lot more to do both in terms of photography and research. I sketch some of that out in the proposal:

More portrait sessions are planned and so far we have secured cooperation for future sessions from: a couple who agreed to pose together; brothers who will do the same; a professional knitter; a civil servant with a double life and a senior citizen with "old school, prison style" tattoos.  The photographs document the ink-art of: professional tattoo studios such as Trouble Bound, independent tattooists who operate "below the radar" from their homes, as well subjects who have tattooed themselves and can be interpreted as indications of the DIY or indie movement of "ink and poke." 

I've received interest from staff at several galleries in three provinces but none can guarantee what their exhibition committees will decide ultimately.  Wish us luck.

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