Daiwan Batok

Daiwan Batok explores Megan Arnold’s relationship to indigenous Filipino tattooing (batok) as a biracial child of Philippine diaspora; a foreigner (daiwan) to her mother’s home country. Drawing upon the essay “Batok in Diaspora: The Reinvention of a Globally Mediated Kalinga Identity” by Analyn Salvador-Amores, Arnold’s installation examines on a micro, personal scale the complex relationships between Kalinga batok – popularized by the elderly Whang-Od of Buscalan, who is allegedly the last living Kalinga tattooist left in the world – and the Kalinga tribe, non-Kalinga Filipinxs living in the Philippines, and Filipinxs living or born abroad. Arnold addresses her unfamiliarity with and disconnect from Philippine culture with a purposeful appropriation of Whang-Od’s “flash sheets”; as well as with clumsily sculpted interpretations of traditional tattooing materials, tribal beads, and both food and plants native to her family’s home province, Pampanga. With Daiwan Batok, Arnold imagines a pre-colonial, nationally Philippine visual culture that signifies her desire to connect with that distant-feeling half of her ethnic and cultural identity. Created for Culture Days September 2017.



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I am an artist in London, Ontario.