For millennia, people of Moana Nui a Kiwa have practiced the artform of tatau (tattoo), communicating their heritage, lineage, history, and narratives with their body markings. Tino Talk, a series of photographic portraits by Vaimaila Urale, documents an exploration of Polynesian symbology through the act of marking the body.
Extending her art practice into the process of hand poke tattooing, Urale has inked Polynesian symbols directly into the skin of three young Polynesian males, all of which were specifically chosen for not having pre-existing Polynesian-referenced tattoos. Serval Latu (23), Matavai Taulangau (23), and Poutasi W. B. Urale’s (26) pre-existing tattoos articulated cultural references, such as anime, gaming, music, Greek mythology, and illustration.
Through the process of talanoa (talking) with the subjects, Urale has extrapolated notions underlying the question “If Tino (your body) could talk, what story would Tino tell?”
Photography Credit: Raymond Sagapolutele
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