Tag Archives: Skindigenous

Preview: Skindigenous celebrates the heritage and importance of Indigenous tattoos

People who get tattoos usually do it for a reason. For some, it’s to salute a band or loved one. For others, it’s a way to express a mantra. For the folks documented in Skindigenous, it’s to remember the heritage of Indigenous people around the world.

Debuting Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN, Nish Media’s Skindigenous is a 13-part adventure that takes viewers into the lives of tattoo artists and their unique culture to discover the tools, techniques, symbols and traditions that shape their art. At its origins among ancient cultures, tattooing was only practiced by those with special standing in the community. Today, modern-day tattoo artists use their art to re-connect with the heritage of their ancestors and to ensure that their stories are not lost.

Gorgeously shot, Episode 1 travels to the green hills of the Philippines to visit a woman and her grandnieces who keep the ancient tattooing tradition alive. Forget the whirring needles and bottles of colour you see in any Canadian city; 100-year-old Whang-Od Oggay (pictured below) and grandniece Grace Palicas practice the hand-tapping technique handed down through generations of members of their Kalinga tribe. Dubbed “the islands of the painted ones,” by Spanish explorers 500 years ago, the Phillippines’ tattooing traditions, as Whang-Od explains, surrounded marking men who killed or wounded opponents during ancient tribal wars.

As narrator Candy Palmater outlines, Whang-Od’s first tattoos were made in the 1940s on those who had fought against the Japanese in the Second World War. Now nature serves as inspiration for Whang-Od’s art via stylized mountains, rivers, centipedes and python scales that signify spirituality and strength. Tattoos in this culture can represent a number of things, including beauty and social status. The show’s producers use CGI brilliantly, showing the intricacies of the tattoo patterns and key locations where they are placed on the body.

Thousands of tourists visit Whang-Od’s small town of Buscalan every year, injecting the local economy with much-needed money. Determined to keep the economy of the area up and continue her art after she passes, Whang-Od has taught grandnieces Grace and Elyang the old traditions. Made from charcoal scraped from the bottom of a cooking pot, placed in a coconut husk and mixed with water and sweet potato, the ink is applied using a thorn of the pomelo tree tapped against the skin.

Upcoming episodes of  Skindigenous travel to Indonesia, Alberta, New Zealand and Hawaii, continuing the stories and art of Indigenous tattoo artists.

Skindigenous airs Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN.

Images courtesy of Nish Media.


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Nish Media announces brand new TV series on APTN Skindigenous debuting Feb. 20

From a media release:

Nish Media debuts its brand new 13-episode series SKINDIGENOUS, which explores Indigenous tattooing traditions around the world, on Tuesday, February 20th at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN HD and APTN E and at 7:30 p.m. MT on APTN W. The APTN N broadcast begins on Friday, February 23 at 5:00 p.m. CT.

The art of tattooing is much more than simply a method of decorating one’s body. At its origins among ancient cultures, tattooing was only practiced by those with special standing in the community. Today, modern-day tattoo artists use their art to re-connect with the heritage of their ancestors and to ensure that their stories are not lost. They do this by maintaining the traditions of their forebears and teaching a new generation about both the ancient and modern techniques they’ve learned.

SKINDIGENOUS takes us on a scintillating journey around the world, from the Philippines and Indonesia to Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand and Mexico, by way of North America via British Columbia, Alberta, Toronto, Alaska and Newfoundland.

Each episode takes the viewer into the lives of the different practitioners and their unique culture to discover the tools and techniques, the symbols and traditions that shape their tattooing art. The art of tattooing is the lens for exploring some of the planet’s oldest perspectives on life, identity, and the natural world.

In Indonesia, a shaman named Aman Jepri gives an apprentice the markings that will complete his initiation into Mentawai shamanism. In Alberta, Amy Malbeuf practices the skin stitch technique with needle and thread; 100-year-old Philippine Wang Od Oggay and Samoan Peter Sulua’pe continue the traditions of their ancient customs; in BC, Alaska, Newfoundland, Toronto, Mexico, Hawaii and New Zealand, Dion Kaszas (BC), Nakkita Trimble (BC), Marjorie Tahbone (AL), Jordan Bennett (NL), Jay Soule (TO), Samuel Olman (MX), Keone Nunes (HI) and Gordon Toi (NZ) are reviving the forgotten art of their ancestors; and in Seattle, artist Nahaan sees tattoo as a political act and a form of resistance.

The accompanying Skindigenous app on the series website will give Indigenous tattoo artists from around the world a forum to record and view their tattoo art. This initiative marks a unique opportunity for a community to build around these artists.

The series was directed by Nish Media producer Jason Brennan and four other directors. Jason, a member of the First Nations community of Kitigan Zibi, has produced shows for APTN, CBC, Radio-Canada, Ici ArtTV, Canal D, TV5 and CBC Docs, including the sixth season of the Indigenous youth hockey show Hit The Ice. The series’ remaining directors are: Award-winning Mohawk filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau (feature film Le Dep, Gémeaux-winning Last Call Indian, Yorkton Film Festival Golden Sheaf winner The Oka Legacy); award-winning film and television director, editor and cameraman Randy Kelly; filmmaker, content creator, director, author Jean-François Martel (the Gémeaux-nominated Radio-Canada documentary Véronique Dicaire : Grand V, La Fosse aux tigres) and Kim O’Bomsawin (La ligne rouge, APTN/Canal D’s Je ne veux pas mourir and the APTN series Motetan Mamo/Marchons Ensemble).

About Nish Media
The series is produced by Nish Media, a multi-award-winning production company based in the Ottawa-Gatineau area. Over the past ten years, producer Jason Brennan has produced over 200 hours of television for various networks such as APTN, CBC, Radio-Canada, Ici ArtTV, Canal D, TV5 and CBC Docs, including Mouki, Wapikoni, La Fosse aux tigres and six seasons of Hit The Ice, nominated in prestigious television festivals including the Banff World Media Festival and Italy’s FICTS. Its first feature film, “Le Dep”, was selected to play in several film festivals including the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic, the Vancouver Film Festival, the Raindance Film Festival, ImagineNative and the American Indian Film Festival. Nish Media is currently adapting Marc Séguin’s novel Nord Alice for film, as well as producing Sonia Bonspille Boileau’s next feature film Rustic Oracle.


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