Vom 15.10.2016 bis zum 12.2.2017 ist in Norwich im Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich die Ausstellung Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific in Norwich zu sehen. Wie mir ein Besucher mitgeiteilt hat, ist sie absolut überwältigend. Es ist die erste wirklich umfassende Ausstellung über die Kunst und die Kultur von Fidschi ab dem späten 18. Jahrundert. Sie war bereits vor einem Jahr für die Bonner Kunsthalle angekündigt, fand dort dann aber nicht statt.
Aufgrund der Wichtigkeit dieser Ausstellung der englische Pressetext dazu:
This internationally-important exhibition will present both Fijian artworks and a European response to them: paintings, drawings and historic photographs of the 19th and 20th century provide context. These include exquisite watercolours by the intrepid Victorian travel writer and artist Constance Gordon Cumming, and by the Irish naval artist James Glen Wilson, who was in Fiji in the 1850s. Over 270 works of art are being loaned by exhibition partner the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology at Cambridge, and by the Fiji Museum, the British Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford) and museums in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Exeter, London and Maidstone.
This exhibition results from a three-year Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded project which examined the extensive but little-known Fijian collections in the UK and overseas, and uncovered some significant treasures. Research project leader and exhibition curator Professor Steven Hooper says, “An important aspect of this exhibition is that the many examples of exceptional Fijian creativity on display are not presented as ‘ethnographic specimens’ or ‘illustrations’ of Fijian culture, but as works of art in their own right, as worthy of attention as any art tradition in the world, including Modernism. Remarkable creative imagination is applied to the making of ancestral god images, ritual dishes and regalia, and to the decoration of enormous barkcloths.”
A highlight of the exhibition will be a beautiful, newly commissioned, eight metre-long double-hulled sailing canoe that has been built in Fiji and shipped to Norwich for display. Made entirely of wood and coir cord, with no metal components, the canoe results from a project to encourage canoe-building skills and is a small version of the great 30-metre-long vessels of the 19th century, the biggest canoes ever built.
Fiji has always been a dynamic place of cultural interactions and exchanges. Since 1000 BC voyaging canoes have transported people and objects around the region, including to Tonga, Samoa and other neighbouring Pacific islands. In the 19th century new voyagers arrived, Europeans, with their new technologies, metal, guns and Christian religion. Sophisticated strategists, Fijian chiefs twice asked to join the British Empire, and a colonial government was established in 1874. Fiji became independent in 1970. Fiji managed the British colonial administration quite effectively, establishing a particularly close relationship with the British royal family, notably with Her Majesty the Queen.
Fiji has also succeeded in maintaining and adapting many of its proud cultural traditions, and today woodcarvers and textile artists continue to produce sailing canoes, kava bowls (for the preparation of the important ritual drink) and impressive decorated barkcloths, some over 60m long, for weddings and mortuary rituals.