The Great Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in England, and the city of Teotihuacan were all built long ago but are famed the world over. Less well known but also extraordinary achievements are the earthen mounds that dot the landscape of North America, from the East to the Midwest to the South. These rise seventy to 100 feet in height and some are more than 5,000 years old. Some have been used for burials, others have been centers of trade and community gathering, and still others have served as the foundations for important buildings or activities, especially of a sacred and ritual nature. 'Moundbuilders: Ancient Architects of North America" tells the often enigmatic story of more than five millennia of Native American moundbuilding activity through photographs, archival excavation records, and more than sixty artifacts excavated at mound sites. The exhibition includes worked stone objects, ceramics, and seashell items including pendants and gorgets. The latter bear sacred designs associated with the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex—a system of signs and symbols shared among different groups living hundreds of miles apart in the years between AD 1000 and 1500. This group and their predecessors have been relatively little studied, and much remains to be discovered about these fascinating ancient peoples and their remarkable art forms.
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
This remarkable art event will run from September 2017 to January 2018 in the Greater Los Angeles Area. It brings together visual art exhibitions at seventy-five (yes, seventy-five) participating museums and university art galleries throughout Southern California. Each explores Latin American and Latino art and identity while raising complex and provocative issues about present-day relations throughout the Americas and the rapidly changing social and cultural fabric of Southern California. While the majority will emphasize modern and contemporary art, there also will be key exhibitions about the ancient world and the pre-modern era. Among these will be an exhibition of luxury objects from the Pre-Columbian Americas at the Getty, a rare showing of ancient Panamanian ceramics at LACMA, Pre-Columbian art and textiles at the Mingei, and an exploration of the interaction between the Chumash Indians and the Spanish missions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries at UC Santa Barbara. For more info: www.pacificstandardtime.org.
The boomerang effect
The Musée d’Ethnographie de Genève will present a hitherto unseen collection of autochthonous Australian artworks from May 19, 2017, until January 7, 2018. Titled L’effet boomerang. Les arts aborigènes d’Australie (The Boomerang Effect: The Aboriginal Arts of Australia), the exhibition examines the origins of an art tradition that is deeply rooted in its ancestral territory and exists in osmosis with nature. A series of utilitarian objects and artifacts, including boomerangs, spear throwers, clubs, message sticks, etc., demonstrate aspects of Aborigine daily life. Captivating mythological tales and accounts allow insight into their philosophy and spirituality. Using artworks ranging from acrylic paintings of the 1970s to those produced by the Ghost Net Art Project, which started in 2004, the exhibition presents a journey through time from 60,000 years ago to the present, tracing the Aboriginal quest for identity. Rather than being simply aesthetic or utilitarian, the art represents struggle and has a militant dimension.
POWERMASK - The Power of Masks
"The Antwerp fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck has been fascinated with the phenomenon of masks since the 1980s and incorporates them into his fashion collections. The Wereldmuseum gave him a free hand to present his vision of the phenomenon of masks. A mask transforms your persona, conjures up a certain atmosphere, and has an immediate impact. POWERMASK delves more deeply into masks and their various facets, such as the historical links between Western art and African masks, the supernatural and rituals surrounding masks, and the uses of masks in fashion and fetishes." On the occasion, Coco Fronsac worked on several photos of the founder of the Wereldmuseum. The exhibition is accompanied by the richly-illustrated book POWERMASK: The Power of Masks.
Jack London in the South Seas
In this exhibition, the Musée d’Arts Africains, Océaniens, Amérindiens (MAAOA) offers you to explore author Jack London’s remarkable adventure at sea. Accompanied by his wife, Charmian, and crew aboard his ketch, the Snark, he traveled throughout the Pacific Islands between 1907 and 1909. The trip served as inspiration for many of his novels and short stories, but he also collected artworks from and took photographs of his various ports of call. The exhibition looks at these widespread archipelagos and the cultural diversity and artistic abilities of the faraway peoples who inhabit them. In addition to objects from London’s personal collection, it presents a fine selection of Oceanic artworks from the MAAOA’s collection and from those of other museums with specialized collections of tribal art. Excerpts from Charmian London’s journals enhance the presentation, as do movie clips by Martin Johnson, the cook and mechanic aboard the Snark, who later became a filmmaker. A documentary on Jack London by Michel Viotte completes the portrait of this exceptional man.
We and the others. From prejudices to racism.
The Musée de l’Homme examines racist behaviours with a scientific approach in his first important temporary exhibition. Informations are only available in French : Avec la volonté d’apporter un éclairage scientifique sur les comportements racistes et les préjugés, le Musée de l’Homme réaffirme son identité, celle d’un lieu de débats, d’échanges et de transmission des savoirs. Au croisement de l’anthropologie, de la biologie, de la sociologie et de l’histoire, l’exposition s’appuie sur des études menées par les chercheurs en sciences de l’Homme et de la société. Elle propose un parcours accessible à tous, qui s’attache à décrypter pourquoi et comment ont pu se mettre en place de tels phénomènes, à un certain moment de l’histoire des sociétés. Dans une scénographie immersive originale - qui place par exemple le visiteur au coeur d’une salle d’embarquement d’aéroport ou d’une terrasse de café - le public est invité à comprendre les mécanismes individuels et collectifs qui conduisent au rejet des « autres », et à prendre conscience des discriminations dans la société française aujourd’hui.
AUSTRALIA: Defending the Oceans / Ghostnet Sculptures
The ghostnets are discarded fishing nets made of plastic abandoned by trawlers fishing illegaly off the coast of northeastern Australia. Dragged by current and trade winds, these nets drift, trapping a rich array of marine life including endangered species, and creating long term damage to the marine environment. Indigenous Australians who depend on the region's fragile ecosystem, including Pormpuraaw in northwestern Queensland, suffer the consequences of this ecological disaster. Some animal species (such as sawfish) that have totemic value for them disappear and put their culture in jeopardy. This is why aboriginal artists launched a new artistic trend to alert public opinion: sculptures made with ghostnets picked up in the oceans or on beaches. The exhibition "Australia: Defending the Oceans / Ghostnet Sculptures", in partnership with the MEG, presents 28 original sculptures. Curated by Stephane Jacob, director of the Arts d'Australie gallery, it will take place at the Palais des Nations at the UN headquarters, in Geneva, until September 22, 2017. It will then be exhibited at the University of Geneva, from November 8, 2017 to January 12, 2018. For more info, please visit : www.artsdaustralie.com.
The famous londinense museum lifts the veil on the history of the Scythians with "Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia". These feared nomadic and warlike tribes of the Eurasian steppes prospered between 900 and 200 BC. While they are known to have had contact with the ancient Greeks, the Assyrians, and the Persians, virtually all traces of their culture have been lost. The exhibition presents objects that have been buried under ice for centuries, maintaining a perfect state of preservation before being discovered in tumuli in the high mountains of the Southern Altai in Siberia. Some of them are more than 2,500 years old. Two hundred items—weapons, adornments, textiles, clothing, utensils—document the everyday lives of this enigmatic culture. The installation demonstrates that the Scythians practiced the art of tattooing and many were expert horsemen. Vestiges of tattoos depicting combat situations involving animals are on view, and we also learn that Scythians were buried with their horses, which were believed to help them reach the next world.
"Rebuilding the Cherokee Nation" at the Gilcrease Museum
Beginning in the late eighteenth century, Cherokee leaders embarked on a strategy to facilitate government-to-government relations by creating institutions comparable to those of the United States. These advancements were bolstered by widespread literacy that came about with the 1821 introduction of the Cherokee writing system, called the Sequoyah Syllabary. Despite these adaptive efforts, in 1830, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, authorizing the forceable removal of 46,000 Native Americans from their ancestral lands. Within the decade, some 15,000 Cherokee were compelled by the military to move from their homelands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). The journey west was arduous, with the very old and very young suffering the most. Hundreds died along the way. Despite this seemingly impossible situation, the Cherokee put down new roots and thrived in this new environment. Through art, material culture, and manuscripts, "After Removal: Rebuilding the Cherokee Nation" at the Gilcrease Museum, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, tells the story of resilience in the face of extreme adversity and the rebirth of the Cherokee Nation.
Africa/Americas: Photographic Portraits
"Africa/Americas: Photographic Portraits by Pierre Verger" presents thirty-two striking black-and-white images by renowned French photographer and anthropological researcher Pierre Verger (1902–1996). It is the first solo museum exhibition of Verger’s work in the United States. Verger traveled extensively during his prolific career, and Africa/Americas includes photographs from the Republic of Benin, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Nigeria, Suriname, and the United States. However, his central focus was the exploration of enduring continuities linking peoples and cultures of West Africa and the African Diaspora. Over the course of five decades, he took an estimated 65,000 photographs with his Rolleiflex camera, depicting individuals and groups in humanistic, light-drenched portraits. His approach to photography placed great emphasis on the beauty of the human form as encountered in scenes of everyday life.