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George Nuku’s trip around the world lands in Rochefort

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"I came to France with the intention of continuing the story.
In one respect, I am literally walking out of the lithographs.
I’m coming out of the picture and I’m in a repeat performance here in Rochefort.
However, the difference is that now the context has changed because this is all history. So the place where this context continues is in the museum."1

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Ten Canoes : a film between historical reenactment, myths and fiction

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[Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this article may contain images or names of deceased persons in photographs or printed material.]

Ten Canoes (10 canoes, 150 spears and three wives) is a film about Arnhem Land and its people, made with and by them. It is a film for Indigenous people and it is also an ambassador film for Aboriginal culture and therefore also made for an audience outside this culture. It is a story of forbidden love, brotherly bonds, kidnapping, witchcraft and revenge, treated with poetry and humour. In short, this is a rich work that CASOAR really recommends! Read More

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From Blandowski to Andrew: the story of an encyclopaedia

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Since the 1990s, an “archival turn” has been happening in contemporary art in Australia1  where artists have been engaging with archives, whether it be in museums, libraries, or archives per se. An influential artist at the forefront of this “new” movement re-reading the archive is the Wirardjuri (NSW, Australia)/Celtic ‘conceptual artist’2 Brook Andrew. Artist Brook Andrew can be regarded as an ‘archival mediator’3  who ‘remak[es and] remark[s …] anthropological or ethnographic objects’.4 It is his work The Island created in 2007-2008 after encountering Read More

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Visual repatriation: creating a present for the past

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        As Elizabeth Edwards has argued, visual repatriation is, in many ways, about finding a present for historical photographs, realising their ‘potential to seed a number of narratives’ through which to make sense of that past in the present and make it fulfil the needs of the present.”1 Edwards explains how visual repatriation is first a way for both Indigenous people and collections holders to shed light on groups of photographs, usually taken in the 19th and 20th centuries, and try to get information about these photographs. More importantly, visual repatriation can be said to allow one to generate narratives which bridge the gap between past and present. Read More

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“And Viot once again left for the Tropics” *

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This article was first written for the catalogue of the Bourgogne Tribal show's third edition in 2018.

      “A poet without a publishing house or work”1Jacques Viot entered the world of Parisian galleries and, more particularly, the surrealist scene in the 1920s. He represented artists like Joan Miró. After working for several artists and galleries and being deep in debt, Viot sailed the Pacific in 1926. After coming back to Paris in 1928, he got back in touch with Pierre Loeb who had had a gallery in Paris since 1924. Viot had worked with him before his departure. Viot suggested that he go to the South Seas in order to bring back objects that were fashionable at the time, particularly among surrealists. Read More

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R’Sis- L’Tié- Let-Pol : le « sauvage blanc » d’Australie

Lorsque deux hommes n’ayant pas de langue commune se rencontrent, que se disent-ils avant tout ? Leur nom. Je l’avais constaté en Islande comme dans le Pacifique. Je mis la main sur mon cœur – geste cérémonieux que j’espérai universel – et dis :
« Octave de Vallombrun. »
Il fit le même geste – là encore, une attitude en miroir de la mienne qu’il n’avait pas eue auparavant – et répéta :
« R’sis- L’tié- Let-Pol. »
S’il se présentait ainsi en insistant sur les deux premiers termes, cela pouvait-il être son nom et son prénom ? J’essayai :
« Narcisse ?
– R’sis ! »
Sa joie était visible, mais les mots se refusaient à sa mémoire et il en avait les larmes aux yeux. J’insistai donc :
« Narcisse ? C’est bien cela, mon garçon ? Tu t’appelles Narcisse ?
– R’sis », confirma-t-il en posant la main sur son cœur.
Nous restâmes alors muets, émus tous deux de ce premier contact. Je le fixai sans cesse, comme si son visage allait me révéler le secret de son existence.1

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Segalen et « Les Immémoriaux », entre exotisme et ethnologie

« Je t’ai dit avoir été heureux sous les tropiques, c’est violemment vrai. Pendant deux ans en Polynésie, j’ai mal dormi, de joie. J’ai eu des réveils à pleurer d’ivresse du jour qui montait. Les dieux du jouir, savent seuls, combien le réveil est annonciateur du jour et révélateur du bonheur continu que ne dose pas le jour. J’ai senti de l’allégresse couler dans mes muscles. J’ai pensé avec jouissance. J’ai découvert Nietzsche. Je tenais mon œuvre, j’étais libre, convalescent, frais et sensuellement assez bien entraîné. J’avais de petits départs, de petits déchirements, de grandes retrouvées fondantes. Toute l’île venait à moi, comme une femme. Et j’avais précisément, de la femme là-bas, des dons que les pays complets ne donnent plus. Outre la classique épouse maorie dont la peau est douce et fraîche, les cheveux lisses, la bouche musclée, j’ai connu des caresses et des rendez-vous, et des libertés qui ne demandaient pas autre chose que la voix, les yeux, la bouche et de jolis mots d’enfant. À Tahiti donc, j’ai sans geste précis connu des heures nocturnes radieusement belles. Les parfums s’y mêlaient sans doute, mais je sais fermement pourquoi j’y fût heureux. Je sais aussi que lorsque j’y retournerai pour vivre et y écrire mon maître du jouir, j’y retrouverai sous des espèces nouvelles, oh, pas de passion personnelle, d’analogue moment, ou bien je ne serais pas digne de sentir et de vivre. »
Extrait de lettre de Victor Segalen à son ami Henry Manceron, 24 décembre 1911.1 Read More

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Is there such a creature as “traditional culture”? *

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As explained by Sean Mallon in his now famous ‘Against Tradition’ (2010), the story began with Samoan writer Albert Wendt. While Wendt started his discussion on the word “tradition” and its use in the 1970s, the debate took a larger scope in the 1990s, as he was working on the creation of a museum - Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand – as member of the Pacific Advisory Committee. Wendt had a simple request then: to abandon the term “traditional art”1 in the future museum. But why?

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Un pont entre deux pays : la Commande Publique d’Art Aborigène au musée du quai Branly

              Laissez-moi vous compter l’histoire d’une des grandes oubliées du musée du quai Branly, la Commande d’Art Publique Aborigène. Bien que largement mise à l’honneur lors de l’ouverture du musée en 2006, cette collection d’œuvres aborigènes contemporaines fait désormais « partie des murs », au sens propre comme au figuré. Read More

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Spear: the story of an Indigenous heritage

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Djali wants to understand what it means to be a man. His journey begins in Arnhem Land and takes him to Sydney. Djali’s search for meaning exposes him to the troubled stories of other Indigenous Australian men. He witnesses the indignities and hardships they face as they negotiate life in a contemporary society that ignores their needs. Djali’s challenge is to navigate his way to a state of being that will nourish rather than destroy him.1 Read More