A boomerang effect in Geneva

The MEG is dedicating an exhibition to the diversity and wealth of Australia’s arts. “L’Effet boomerang. Les arts aborigènes d’Australie”, thus offers insight into the colonisation of this country, from a political and aesthetic perspective. It was in 1770 that British explorer James Cook, acting as a representative of King George III, became the first Westerner to set foot on the Terra incognita, today known as Australia. Even if the land was already populated, the explorer still dubbed this territory as Terra nullius – “no man’s land”, an expression that says a great deal about the way indigenous people were long considered as a primitive society. However, the “material culture” developed by Australia’s 270 or so ethnicities over the 60,000 years in which they had inhabited the territory would whet the interest of Western travellers. Many European goods were exchanged for local fetishes, sometimes painlessly, for the Aborigines had the means to reproduce these artefacts easily. It was during this period that Australia became a “contact zone” between two worlds, two space-time bodies. In the Second Preface to Bajazet, Racine stated that “spatial distance may compensate for temporal proximity”. By discovering Australia, the West conquered the ends of the Earth, and made the acquaintance of a radical otherness, originally viewed according to an axiology riddled with prejudices pitting the primitive against the civilised or the natural against the social. What remained to be constructed were bridges between two territories but also across the centuries. Not exactly straightforward, as anthropologists Herbert Spencer and Francis James Gillen noted. For the Aborigines, the time of individuals is integrated into the notion of the Dreaming or the Dreamtime, a poetic expression coined by anthropologist Francis James Gillen to describe the pervasive mythology of humans meeting their ancestors during ritual ceremonies. From an aboriginal...

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Geneva Ethnography Museum to reopen in October

Four years after its closure, the Geneva Ethnography Museum (MEG) is to reopen to the public. The inauguration is to take place on 31 October. It is to welcome visitors to a new building, designed by the architectural firm Graber Pulver in Zurich, which is to boast a shiny metal roof, punctuated by diamond-shaped windows. These new spaces will give visitors the opportunity to view ethnographic collections from five continents, presenting 1,000 objects, selected from the existing 80,000 which make up the collections of the MEG. The works on display represent 1,500 different cultures, offering a diverse appreciation of the genre. On its opening, MEG is to benefit from 7,200 m2 of space, largely intended for public use. For the museum’s programme, 2,000 m2 is to be dedicated to permanent and temporary...

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