Exhibition examines spiritual roots of tattoos

The Embassy of France in collaboration with Alliance Française Chiang Mai presents "Trance/Figuration: Tattoos From Birth To Death", featuring a multi-feature immersive work of sacred tattoos, at the French School of the Far East (École Française d'Extrême-Orient) in Chiang Mai, until May 22.

(Photo courtesy of Embassy of France)

This is a spiritual journey through art that reconnects viewers to their deepest spiritual roots where a body is used as a canvas, with every inch of skin filled with sacred text and figures of mythical creatures, all forming a protective shield.

They will enter the world of Thailand's spiritual yantra tattoo tradition through an immersive work that incorporates photography, film, sound and installations, inspired by the talismanic Thai tattoo tradition, known as sak yant.

Across Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos, tattoo masters act as shamans to create magical patterns that grant the bearer protection, charisma, or luck. Step into astounding ceremonies of wai kru (master day), when devotees enter a state of trance known as khong khuen (animal spirit possession), taken over by the spirit of their tattoos.

The exhibition merges historic photographs with contemporary creations, and will also feature talks from ethnologists and sociologists about the social role of tattoos in Southeast Asia versus the rest of the world.

It will travel to showcase at Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park in Chiang Rai from May 27 to June 19 before coming to the National Gallery Bangkok from June 30 to Aug 31.

There is no admission fee. Visit fb.me/e/1Mw58Ef97.

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