The Hamatsa (cannibal) was a secret society among the Kwakiutl people of the Pacific Northwest coast. Part of its practice consisted of a dramatic performance with music, masks, and dancing. During the actual ceremony, initiates into the Hamatsa secret society (usually teenage boys) are taken by the cannibal spirit to reside in the woods for a specific period of time. The artist explores sound and movement in this book through text, image, and structure.
This video demonstrates how the book can be activated by releasing a lever to let the front panel drop into the book. The front panel causes the handmade paper rattles, in the shape of hands, to move and create sound. In a darkened room with back-lighting, the watermark image of the cannibal spirit suddenly appears. The startling effect caused by sudden movement and sound references the fear-inducing drama of the Northwest Coast Hamatsa performance.
22 × 41 × 8 inches (expands to approximate depth of 45 inches)
wood, metal, handmade flax, cotton, and sisal paper with pulp painting and watermarks, ink, linen thread, PVA; tunnel book, letterpressed, hand-sewn and cut.
Includes accompanying pulp-painted marionette of cannibal bird spirit and sculpted flax paper hand rattles.
Additional images and information can be found at dwidmer.virb.com/hamatsa