Book on Kalinga tattooed women wins award in Germany
After being featured in six different countries, Filipino photographer Jake Verzosa's work was included in the eight highly-esteemed works awarded in the inaugural Steidl Book Award Asia.
"The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga" is one of eight photobooks picked by renown photobook publisher Gerhard Steidl in January from numerous submissions by Asian photographers in the past year.
Verzosa's photobook depicts the tattooed women of Kalinga, and the "mambabatok" or tattoo artists who practice "pagbabatok," a rite of passage for the women and men of Kalinga.
During a courtesy call to the Philippine Embassy in Berlin last January 23, Verzosa said the photobook was created to preserve the memory of these women and to bring the true meaning of their tattoos back.
"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," he said. "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 the series at the international photography fair, Paris Photo, in 2014 where "The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga" was first launched.
"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,” Menkes said.
Verzosa's photobook took three years to complete. It was exhibited in Denmark, France, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and Singapore and is now in the permanent collection of Musée Nicéphore Niépce in Chalon-sur-Saône, France.
Other titles shortlisted for the Steidle Book Award Asia are: Broy Lim (Singapore) "And Now They Know"; Jongwoo Park (South Korea) "DMZ"; "Kapil Das" (India) Lumpy Gravy; Robert Zhao (Singapore) "A Guide to Flora and Fauna of the World"; Woong Soak Teng (Singapore) "Ways to Tie Trees"; Yukari Chikura (Japan) "fluorite fantasia"; and Zhang Lijie (China) "Midnight Tweedle."
"The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga" will be featured along these works in a box set titled "8 Books for Asia." —Rie Takumi/KBK/BM, GMA News