Versoza’s Kalinga Mambabatok wins Steidl Book Award

Filipino photographer Jake Verzosa’s work on “Kalinga Mambabatok” has won in the inaugural Steidl Book Award Asia.

Jake Verzosa
(L-R) Second Secretary Rona Beth Boce, Ambassador Melita S. Sta. Maria-Thomeczek and Jake Verzosa [via DFA]

Versoza’s photographs in the “The Last Tatooed Women of Kalinga,” depicting the dying culture of tattooing or ‘pagbabatok’ among Kalinga women is one of the 8 photobooks chosen by the renowned German designer and publisher Gerhard Steidl from entries by Asian photographers.

“The main purpose of doing this was to document the last remaining people who adorn these tattoos and to hopefully reverse the changing perception of beauty among the Kalinga. The tattoos used to be a symbol of beauty, wealth, and honor but now, most see them as ancient, barbaric, and a stigma,” Versoza said in a report from the Philippine Embassy in Berlin.

The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga will be featured along with the other chosen works in a box set titled “8 Books for Asia”.

“Naked arms in pictures of aged tattooed skin taken in the Philippines. Jake Verzosa’s digital black-and- white prints… showed women whose skin seemed to be patterned as if by a lacy sweater… It’s at one hand historical and on the other a sort of poetry unfolding as a record for posterity,” said Vogue International editor Suzy Menkes, lauding this particular series at Paris Photo 2014.

Versoza and the award winners will also travel to Göttingen, Germany to make their books together with Art Director Steidl and Theseus Chan.

Verzosa’s work was exhibited Denmark, France, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and Singapore and is in the permanent collection of Musée Nicéphore Niépce in Chalon-sur- Saône, France.

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