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Review: ‘Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art.’ At the Royal Ontario Museum (April 2 to September 5, 2016)

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) opens its new exhibition, Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art., on Saturday, April 2, 2016. On display in the Museum’s Roloff Beny Gallery, the show explores the multifaceted world of tattooing and the complex relationship between tattoo artists and tattooed. Coming from the musée du quai Branly in Paris, Tattoos showcases a visual history of body art and markings along with prints, posters, ancient tools, and commissioned tattooed silicone body reproductions inked by some of the most respected tattooists in the world.

The ROM’s exhibition is curated by Chris Darling, Senior Curator of Entomology, and Kenneth Lister, Assistant Curator of Anthropology. Featured are over 200 objects including many loaned from the quai Branly, and private lenders across Europe, along with nearly two dozen objects from the ROM’s Arctic, Egyptian, Pacific, East Asian and Natural History collections. Tracing tattoos across continents and over time, the exhibition examines tattoo artists and the tattooed, exploring the factors that have made tattooing an important cultural practice, an art form, and a worldwide modern phenomenon. Highlights include nine documentary videos showing various aspects of tattooing in different cultures and 13 silicone body parts inked by leading tattoo artists including Tin-Tin (France), Horiyoshi III (Japan), Filip Leu (Switzerland), Paul Booth (USA), Chimé (Polynesia), and Yann Black (Montreal).

“The exhibition brings to life the more than 5,000 year-old history of tattoos, exploring these ancient practices and their cultural significance. It will inspire ROM visitors to consider how the complex traditions of ink under the skin are constantly changing and have led to the global phenomenon of body art,” said Chris Darling, Senior Curator of Entomology, Royal Ontario Museum.

The original exhibition, Tattooists, Tattooed, curated by Anne & Julien, founders of the magazine HEY! Modern Art & Pop Culture, was on display in Paris from 2014 – 2015 and drew record crowds to the musée du quai Branly.

Tattoos is a separately ticketed exhibition. Tickets are available for: $8.00 (Adults), $6.00 (Seniors and Students), and $4.00 (Children). ROM Members enjoy the exhibition at no cost.

The exhibition is complemented by a series of ROM events. Highlights include:

Borneo: Explorations of Nature and Culture

Thursday, May 26 | 11:00 am | Free with General Admission

ROM Curator Chris Darling discusses the exploration of the biological and cultural diversity of the world’s third largest island with reference to historical and modern tattooing traditions.

The Cultural Heritage of Indigenous Tattooing: Medicine, Myth, Magic, and Meaning

Tuesday, June 14 | 7:00 pm | Ticketed Event

Leading anthropologist Lars Krutak shares his journey to understand the impact of tattoos and other forms of body modification.

Art Fusion, Presented in Partnership with Northern Ink Xposure

Thursday, June 16 | 7:00 pm | Ticketed Event

International tattoo artists bring their talents to the ROM, creating collaborative art in the Museum’s galleries along with live music, and entertainment. Access to the exhibition is included.

Visit rom.on.ca/tattoos for tickets and exhibition details.


Forget Kat Von D and LA Ink, The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)’s, ‘Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art.’ will shine a light into tattoo art history that you will never see on TLC. ‘Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art.’ is beautifully curated while also providing an honest portrayal of the creation of tattoo art and the people who wear them.

Even if you don’t have a tattoo there is no need to be shy – the ‘Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art.’ will demystify the art form for you, show you why people gravitate toward it, why it makes it so personal based on the art that is chosen and where on the body it is placed.

The cultural inclusivity of the exhibit was authentic, respectful and brimming with stories that you would be hard-pressed to find online or in a documentary. The photographs, images and silicone body pieces are intimate, simple but also so rich in storytelling that it leaps off the skin in singing unison.

The ‘Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art.’ is an important exhibit to get truly lost in over the summer break with friends, family and out of towners. For those of us who are keen tattoo enthusiasts the Sailor Jerry vintage work will surely make them swoon.  For those of us new to the art form and need a shot of tattoo education at its best – the videos, sideshow tattoo art and gorgeously maintained tattoo art tools and artifacts will scrape the surface into a journey that will be far from over once you leave the ROM’s premises.


Review: Royal Ontario Museum’s Friday Night Live ‘Dinonite’ #FNLROM

Well into its second week of Friday Night Live, the Royal Ontario Museum brought their ‘Dinonite’ game last night.   For some of us, the last time we hung out with our dino ancestor’s was in grade school.  It’s never too late to drop in and say ‘Holla’ from the 6.

Hot on the Dino tip we headed for the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs on Level 2 to greet the Triceratops.

One of the oldest members of the horned dinosaur family Ceratopsidae, which includes the famous Triceratops, the new dinosaur lived during the Late Cretaceous, 79 million years ago, in what is now the Milk River badlands of southern Alberta. Dinosaurs from this time are poorly understood compared to those from the later rocks of Dinosaur Provincial Park or the Drumheller region.

After our Dino fill it was time to get our party on. With our ROMBUCKS in tow we headed to the ‘Chinese Architecture’ section of the ROM to grab King Catering’s famous Jerk Chicken Tacos, Jerk Chicken Poutine and Southern Bites. The spice was on!

As we ate our yummy eats we took in the featured entertainment, Rambunctious at the Currelly Mainstage. The notorious trumpeter Michael Louis Johnson leads this ragtag band in an all improvised dance party jam featuring grooves from New Orleans to Harlem, Motown to the Balkans, funk to punk and everything in between.

Back Biodiversity on Level 2 we went for Dino cookies care of Curbside Bliss. Curbside Bliss never disappoints when it comes to soothing our sweet tooth.  As we nibbled on our treats we popped in for a session at the Spell-a-saurus in the Earth Rangers Studio.  Yes, a Prehistoric Spelling Bee!  It was heaving!  After a go at the traditional spelling bee we headed off to dance off our meals with an uber cool band by the name of Language Arts in Bronfman Hall.

If you need a house jazz break you can be guaranteed to find U of T’s Faculty of Music’s Jazz Program to keep you propped up and perhaps take a spin or two at the different levels at Friday Night Live. It’s not about all big beats and busting a move after all!

As we headed out a shave after 11 p.m. after a full evening of food, culture and music we thought why not bust a move one last time on Level 4 with House DJ – DJ Jason Palma. He is a pioneer of Toronto’s acid jazz scene and was mixing the seemingly un-mixable with a few of my closest new friends.

Catch you next week for Fashion (May 20, 2016) at the ROM’s ‘Friday Night Live’! Grab your tickets here! https://www.rom.on.ca/en/whats-on/fnlrom-fashion