What connects James Cook, the Bounty mutineers and about 15 million people in Oceania? A unique fabric, made from tree bark. From clothing in Hawai’i to ritual masks in Papua New Guinea, from a room divider in Fiji to an important wedding gift in Samoa or even as the “red carpet” during coronation ceremonies in Tonga – tapa can be found nearly everywhere in the Pacific. In Europe however, the material is still largely unknown.
The special exhibition “Made in Oceania: Tapa – Art and Social Landscapes” presents 250 unique masterpieces from the museum’s own collection in combination with loans from major institutions such as the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington or the Australian Museum in Sydney. Many of them will be shown in Europe for the first time. The selection ranges from the oldest objects dating back to the 18th century – the Cook collection – to contemporary artworks from renowned Polynesian or Melanesian artists like John Pule, Fatu Akelei Feu’u, Michel Tuffery, Shigeyuki Kihara, Dagmar Dyck, Timothy Akis or Mathias Kauage.
Various media such as film or audio stations bring people and stories behind the objects to life. Connections between past and present, everyday life and art and from island to island can be independently discovered. The whole exhibition is bilingual (German and English).
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