Tattoo-fueled festivals have been cropping up all across the country. Check out the festival that took place at the Honolulu Museum of Art! When the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, decided to host Japanese Tattoo: Perseverance, Art, and Tradition (on view until September 27),they also decided to create an arts and film festival to complement the exhibition.
The first festival of its kind in Virginia, the Tattoo Arts and Film Festival on September 4th and 5th uses alternative art forms—from film to storytelling—to express the nature and spirit of tattoo.
VMFA chose the films with a curatorial eye for top-notch cinematic qualities and tattoos functioning strongly in the narrative. Each will be introduced by world-renowned experts.
- Eastern Promises (2008): This taut crime movie, starring Viggo Mortenson and directed by David Cronenberg, tells the story of a shrewd criminal trying to rise in London’s Vory v Zakone Russian Mafia, where tattoos are earned for status and respect.
- Utamaro and His Five Women (1946): This Japanese classic B&W film by Kenji Mizoguchi dramatizes the creative drive and features a sub-theme relating tattoo with Japan’s woodblock print tradition.
- Tattoo Nation (2013): The recent documentary historicizes the U.S. tattoo practice by focusing on the Los Angeles shop that may have started the mass movement in body art.
- Japanese Anime Tattoo Traditions: VMFA explores examples of the particularly Japanese animated cartoon art, anime, with a tattoo inclination. With Anh Do, VMFA and VSU faculty animation expert
In conjunction with the films, VMFA’s festival includes a variety of other events exploring tattoo culture or Japanese traditions. Secretly Y’all, a local storytelling group making its second appearance at VMFA, highlights the art of the oral narrative with tales of tattoos. The following day, River City Taiko Drummers celebrates Japanese aural traditions as they wow audiences with their dynamic ensemble percussion. Gallery talks with tattoo artists and tattoo-themed tours of the museum’s permanent collection round out the experience. The wrap-up reception, where festival goers can enjoy hors d’oeuvres and libation, is sure to give rise to lively and enlightening conversation about the weekend’s events!
—Trent Nicholas VMFA Cinema Programs Coordinator