<p>Abstract:</p><p>In this article, I describe two exhibitions that were developed and shared in order to recognize and value Indigenous ways of seeing and experiencing the world: <i>Ples Namel</i>, held at the Queensland Art Gallery in 1996, and the award-winning <i>Rituals of Seduction: Birds of Paradise</i>, held at the Australian Museum in 2011. In these art gallery and museum spaces, source communities engaged in conversation and dialogue with the institutions and their collections. In order to enable audiences to experience Pacific environments, the exhibitions' collaborators established the <i>moka pena</i>, or center space, from the Mogei community in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea. In each event, individual experiences, recollections, and knowledge were brought together in a social encounter in this center spaceâthe <i>ples namel</i>. In the Mogei worldview, this <i>ples namel</i> is at the same time a physical presence and an imaginary one, a duality similarly reflected in Indigenous communities' and audience members' participation in the two exhibitions. The natural environment, the accoutrements adorning the body, and the performing bodies all came together in a volatile, dynamic, and productive political and cultural space of meaning making. There were opportunities for unsettlement and disruption of knowledge. Such negotiations or acceptance of the new in the unsettled and disrupted space of performance may realign and rewrite historyâexperienced personally and realized socially.</p>
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Apr 1, 2020
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