Tatau: Samoan Tattooing and Global Culture: Photographs by Mark Adams

(Toronto—Jan. 18, 2008) The Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) Professional Gallery is pleased to present Tatau: Samoan Tattooing and Global Culture: Photographs by Mark Adams from Feb. 15 to May 18, 2008. The exhibition launches with an evening of conversation between Mark Adams and curator Peter Brunt, on Fri., Feb. 15, 6:30 pm.

Making its North American debut at OCAD’s Professional Gallery, Tatau: Samoan Tattooing and Global Culture: Photographs by Mark Adams originated at Wellington’s Adam Art Gallery before touring New Zealand and Australia.  This exhibit explores 'tatau', the Samoan tattooing tradition, as an example of cross-cultural collaboration and cultural diversity. Based on a twenty-five year association with the tufuga tatatau (tattoo artists), particularly Adams’ friendship with Samoan tattooing master Sulu’ape Paulo II, these photographs show a global community transplanting, adopting and appropriating the tatau. Adams’ images also consider the man behind the camera and the viewer before the prints by exploring colonial photography’s legacy and the search for alternative representations of our relationships with others.

"These beguiling pictures describe distant cultures while raising issues relevant here," says Professional Gallery curator Charles Reeve. "The negotiation between traditional tattooing and mainstream appropriation occurs in numerous contexts around the globe."

Mark Adams is one of New Zealand’s foremost documentary photographers. His work on Samoan tattooing, Maori-Pakeha interactions around Rotorua, and New Zealand’s historic sites have been shown extensively in New Zealand, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. His books include Land of Memories and Cook’s Sites. Adams lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Peter Brunt teaches Pacific art, Postcolonial art and theory, and Primitivism in the Art History program at Wellington’s Victoria University. His research addresses Pacific art, art and cross-cultural encounter in the Pacific, and postcolonial art and theory.

Tatau at the Premiere Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre

Ticket holders to the Premiere Dance Theatre can see additional images from Tatau in the Premiere Dance Theatre gallery at Harbourfront Centre.  The images are presented in conjunction with the presentation of Black Grace, which runs April 30 to May 3, as part of World Stage 08. New Zealand's leading contemporary dance company, Black Grace is an all-male troupe combining Pacific Island traditions with contemporary dance.  Parts of their repertoire use movement to explore Samoan tatau.

Tatau: Samoan Tattooing and Global Culture: Photographs by Mark Adams

February 15 to May 18, 2008
Exhibition Preview: Friday, February 15, 4 to 9 pm
An Evening of Conversation: Peter Brunt & Mark Adams: Friday, February 15, 6:30 pm
Limited seating available. Guests are advised to arrive early.

Past Exhibitions


Future location (opening June 2017):
199 Richmond St. W.

Office location: 230 Richmond St. W.
Office hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Francisco Alvarez

Dorene & Peter Milligan Executive Director, OCAD U Galleries


416-977-6000 Ext. 2201

Lisa Deanne Smith

Curator, Onsite Gallery


416-977-6000 Ext. 2208

Linda Columbus

Programs Assistant, Onsite Gallery


416-977-6000 ext 456