AUSTRONESIAN SYMPOSIUM MAY 24 – 25
TJIBAOU CULTURAL CENTRE / PACIFIC ARTS ASSOCIATION
Dear Austronesian Symposium people,
I told a few of you that I would send some documentation from the conference. Three months later I have kept my promise. Sorry for the wait – I have been on a series of internet strikes, kept busy with teaching, art making and spending time with family.
Unfortunately the image sizes are too large to email and this was the easiest way to clump photo’s as I do not use The Facebook.
If you see yourself in a photo, download by clicking the image / save to computer or drag and drop for Mac users. Karen and Hillary, please feel free to add documentation to your PAA archive. I would have taken more images during presentations but the light was either too intense or very dark.
Again, apologies for the delay in getting these out. I do however think it is good to reflect and come back to some of the issues discussed post the event as they can easily be forgotten.
All the best.
DAY ONE: NOUMEA AIRPORT
I spent a good part roaming the streets looking for dinner. I couldn’t find anything and to make matters worse, I was followed by a stray dog not long before it started to rain. My plan was to keep close to parked cars so that I could leap onto a bonnet at a moments notice – should the dog decide to attack. It was very stressful, both dog and I were very hungry and terrible at speaking French. In the end I decided to go back to the hotel to lick my wounds but discovered a revolving restaurant on level 19. I hadn’t eaten since lunch time and by 9pm waiting for my meal to arrive, I believe I may have become drunk on one glass of Riesling. The whole experience was disorientating and the fact that the room was in constant motion did not help. I don’t like revolving restaurants.
The polarity and duality of both French supremacy and the indigenous Kanak people in New Caledonia, is something that really stood out for me – even more so on my second and recent visit to Noumea. For that reason, the Tjibaou Cultural Centre’s efforts in preserving local art, culture and voice is one of crucial importance as hosting body and context for the Austronesian symposium. In good timing, we were able to view Kanak, l’Art est une Parole – an important exhibition of traditional and contemporary Kanak art. I especially enjoyed seeing the excellent work of young artists Stephanie Wamytan and Nico Mole.
The symposium was interesting (as a first timer) to a PAA led event. For two days, I sat and listened to a group of people presenting their expertise in Pacific cultures, notions, artifacts, ideas and architecture from different parts of the world. The perspectives were communicated as formal academic research and I found that a bit challenging but It was good. In a moment of sheer confusion, a well-known Kanak artist heckled an Australian curator because he thought she was presenting the Aboriginal art works as her own. His passionate outbursts reminded me that we are here to question, discuss and even fight – whether right or wrong.
Director Peini Beatrice Hsieh (Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts Taiwan) delivered the finest keynote. Her commitment to indigenous Taiwanese arts and fostering relationships in the Pacific was somewhat inspirational. I personally adored her reference to working with artists “They are the most difficult creatures on earth, but they are beautiful and I love them the most”. She continued to inspire when discussing the activation of positive change through art at every level with words that will stick with me for a very long time: “I try to remind everyone that mainstream has been created by the sub stream, hidden streams and every drop”.