Ritual Figures in Congo
African art is set to conquer China, and Congolese ritual art leads the charge. The Ritual Figures in Congo exhibition, which has already been produced as a catalog, will be shown for the fi rst time at the Three Gorges Museum from June 8 until September 9, 2018. This is just the fi rst stop of a tour that will take it to the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, the Guilin Museum in Guangxi Province, the Guangzhou Museum in Canton, and fi nally the Tsinghua University Museum in Beijing. This will be the first exhibition in China devoted entirely to the ritual statuary of the Congo, and it will feature nearly 120 wooden sculptures, some well known and others not, dating from between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries.
New Caledonian Trajectories
The Musée Anne-de-Beaujeu is presenting some 100 objects selected from its non-European art collection. Including artworks never before exhibited, as well as others borrowed from prestigious institutions such as the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac and the Musée des Confluences, "Trajectoires Kanak. Histoires de voyages en Nouvelle-Calédonie" (Kanak Trajectories: Histories of Voyages in New Caledonia) explores three events in New Caledonian history. The first is the story of French colonist Léon Moncelon, who moved to New Caledonia with his family in 1873. This is followed by that of Pierre Poyti, a mixed-blood New Caledonian, who was raised in France, and, finally, by that of the New Caledonian chief Poindi-Patchili, who resisted European settlement of his territory. A group of thirty-six New Caledonian weapons, including paddles, clubs, spear throwers, and clubs that Moncelon collected and gave to the museum is presented along with artifacts associated with Poindi-Patchili. These objects lend insight into the figures on the New Caledonian scene in the late nineteenth century—the autochthonous people, the colonials, the missionaries, and the scientists. The exhibition also sheds light on the expeditions into the region and describes the environment, ritual universe, and ornaments of the New Caledonian people. More info on: http://musees.allier.fr.
Out of the Box
Since its reopening, the Weltmuseum in Vienna has taken a modern and progressive approach with its exhibitions, placing it squarely within a contemporary trend that favors showing objects from different places and periods side by side. In an effort to integrate visitors into internal museum processes, to share experiences, and to involve their audiences in the observation and analysis of specifi c objects, museums have been turning increasingly toward new and refreshing ways of creating connections. Out of the Box, which will be on view through September 18, 2018, is a good example of this kind of show. More than just a group of objects, it strives to emphasize the connections between populations and their artifacts that share a common history of individual and unique migrations. Each of the many participants in this exhibition was invited to choose an object that echoes his or her heritage—or cultural baggage. The object thus becomes a player in a very real story that is not always unique to just one individual. It becomes the receptacle for a dialog, a path, a life, and for human emotions, and it serves as a reminder that a major purpose of a curator’s work must be to retrace the archaeological and ethnographic trajectory of an object. Is there a more effective way to draw a work of art directly into the heartof our lives?
The Little Explorer's Box of Delights
The Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac specializes in examining different perspectives. After Aztec Hotel, which focused on the America-mania surrounding Pre-Columbian cultures, Le Magasin des petits explorateurs (the Little Explorer’s Box of Delights) now looks at the ways in which distant cultures were represented and portrayed in France in publications intended for children. On view through October 7, the exhibition serves as an extension of Paintings from Afar, which we presented in last issue’s Portfolio, except it’s for kids. Great authors and romantic painters were fascinated by the Aztec, Maya, Native Americans, Africans, and Japanese Samurai. Impressionable children react to these fascinating and distant worlds in particular ways, and children’s literature may offer the best explanation as to why. Jules Verne, Robinson Crusoe and Friday, and Captain Nemo, among many others, have been an important part of many a childhood. Were these paper heroes the fruit of fertile imaginations, hostile and savage jungles, and visions of the adventurers’ heroism? Or were they faithful and neutral representations— if a bit embellished—of the peoples by whom they were inspired? Such stereotypes are injected into the worldview of young generations, as the nostalgia of adults fi nds its way into the adventure stories intended for children. The objects, books, magazines, and catalogs presented in this exhibition, which was curated by Roger Boulay, eloquently support this point.
The Art of beads in Africa - The Mottas collection
Used for exchange and trade, as a covering for statues, as body ornaments for both men and women, or on figures with sacred charges, beads in Africa have many denominations and many symbolic meanings. They were originally produced in Europe for the African market—in other words, for trade—and in this sense they serve as a reminder of a colonial past. But beads were quickly appropriated by African artists and became an integral part of their works, even if they did derive from a foreign continent. Their colors and vivacity made them immediately attractive and popular, but it is too often forgotten that those colors are actually indicators of a complex code of identity. Beads carry messages about the age, gender, and status of the people that wear them—all messages that this exhibition deciphers and explains. Beads have had many and varied uses: They appear on royal Bamileke fi gures and on the necklaces or bracelets of fetish fi gures, as well as on more mundane and everyday objects such as ornaments and jewelry produced by African craftspeople. Beads have been a vector of globalization visible on the panoply of objects of which they are part. The flexibility of their use is illustrated through the juxtaposition of traditional beaded objects that recently came to the Rietberg Museum from the collection of François Mottas—a passionate collector who assembled over 400 African artworks with detailed documentation—with contemporary objects, such as a planisphere of worldwide commercial routes created entirely with beads by artists Anna Richerby and Laurence Kapinga Tshimpaka. The exhibition which will be open from June 7 until October 21, 2018, makes a special effort to honor the work of female artists, too long ignored in the history of the African continent’s art despite their long having been such an important creative force there.
The Ramanyana narrated by the masks Rajbanchi
From 22 December 2017 until 28 October 2018, this exhibition takes you on a journey through the northern regions of India and southern Nepal. It was born from a dream: to create a museum in Nepal that celebrates the arts of Nepalese or neighboring ethnic minorities. A set of 90 ancient masks evokes the Ramayana. This long mythological epic tells of Rama's struggle to recover his wife, Sita, abducted by Ravana, 10-headed demon of Ceylon, with the help of Hanuman and his army of monkeys. It is commemorated during shows performed by inhabitants who, for several days, play the major events of this story by climbing or masking. Some paintings of the Mithila and a series of textiles from Bhutan enrich the collection which offers a wide panorama of the artistic production of a people too often ignored. The exhibition is held at the Bernard and Caroline de Watteville Foundation in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. More information about tne exhibition available on : www.art-et-collections.ch
So Far and So Near
An exhibition opening March 20, 2018, at the Barbier-Mueller Museum juxtaposes works in the Swiss museum’s collection with those of contemporary artist Silvia Bächli, who is also curating the exhibition. Conceived of as a creative game with the museum’s staff, So Far and So Near: Tribal Arts Through the Eyes of Sylvia Bächli will present the artist’s gouaches on paper along with about sixty works she has selected from the museum’s collection. The juxtaposition of contemporary art and non-Western works is intended to provoke reflection on the form, status, and function attributed to art objects of any origin, whether from the West or elsewhere. The forms of the Barbier-Mueller Museum’s masks, figures, vessels, and shields are intended to serve as a formal counterpoint to the sense of movement and line created by the Swiss artist, and unexpected responses are born of these aesthetic encounters. The role of each participant in the transformation of the object into an artwork—the expert, the dealer, the anthropologist, the collector, the curator, and the display designer—will be detailed in the catalog that accompanies the show.
Across the Caribbean, there is growing interest in the historical, cultural, and genetic legacies of Native peoples. Over the past forty years, a diverse Taíno movement has taken form, and increasing numbers of individuals, families, and organizations are affirming their Native ancestry and identifying themselves as Taíno. This movement challenges the prevalent belief that Native peoples became extinct shortly after European colonisation in the Greater Antilles, which are populated by the racially mixed and culturally blended societies of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, as well as other areas of the Caribbean. Taíno: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean, at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, July 28, 2018–October 2019, will explore the rural roots of the Taíno movement and provide insight into the legacy of Native peoples throughout the Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands and their American diasporas.
Tuareg, Nomad Tales
Perceived by their Western colonizers as everything from noble and chivalrous to bloodthirsty and savage, the image of the Tuareg that was built up during colonial times remains firmly rooted in many minds. In "Touaregs, récits nomades", the Musée des Confluences challenges these stereotypes and reveals the Tuareg in all of their complexity and dynamism. The first part focuses on the watercolors of Paul-Elie Dubois, as well as on archival documents and popular items. It then moves on to the remarkable collection of jewelry and amulets donated by the Masnat Association in 2015. These create an immersive experience in the Tuareg aesthetic universe, which is characterized by restraint, equilibrium, a distinctive geometry, and a unique use of color. Excerpts from poems accompany the presentation. Finally, the exhibition examines how the Tuareg are changing their traditional codes while at the same time reaffirming their identity. Like the jewelry they adapt to Western uses, they are reappropriating an idealized Western image to diffuse their culture, to make their demands known, and to enter into a new form of resistance.
Easter Island exhibits in South France
Easter Island will be very present in the Occitanie region of France this year, with no less than three thematic exhibitions divided between the Muséum of Toulouse, Musée Champollion in Figeac and Musée Fenaille in Rodez. Easter Island, a small piece of emerged land that has been fascinating both scientists and passionate amateurs for decades, reveals herself slowly. The tripartite exhibit reviews the last discoveries and the questions still left unsolved, trying to separate myth from reality. At the Musée Champollion, “The Talking Wood” presents the scientific updates in the process of deciphering the glyphs on the “rongorongo” tablets. In Toulouse; the exhibit showcases the mysteries of this Rapa Nui population: Where did they come from? How did they end up there? How does the current local population of the Island live? These are just a few of the questions this exhibition tries to answer. Last but not least, the Musée Fenaille focus’ on the iconic sculptures and iconography of the Island, from the monumental stone figures to the wooden statues called Tangata, it offers a rather exhaustive presentation of the theme by gathering unique art pieces from public institutions and private collections. The exhibitions will take place from June 30th to November 4th of 2018 (and prolonged until 30th of June 2019 for the Muséum of Toulouse).