“To come forth, show itself, open out, emerge, reveal, to give testimony”
In Māori culture, it is believed everyone has a tā moko under the skin, just waiting to be revealed. The problem is, when photographs of tā moko were originally taken in the 1850s, the tattoos barely showed up at all. The wet-plate photographic method used by European settlers served to erase this cultural marker – and as the years went by, this proved true in real life, too. The ancient art of tā moko was increasingly suppressed as Māori were assimilated into the colonial world.
In his new project, photojournalist Michael Bradley has re-claimed the near-obsolete wet-plate photographic technique as an original and striking way of showing the resurgence of the art form of tā moko. Combining the 1850s technique with the latest in modern technology, Puaki showcases the tā moko of 23 Māori participants through wet plate and digital photos and video interviews.