Another shore: Taba Naba
"Because Indigenous peoples have a direct connection to the natural world a central concern is what is happening to land and sea"
Following major exhibitions in Paris and London it is now time to turn our attention to Monaco and to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco and to its current exhibition of Aboriginal and Oceanographic art titled Taba Naba.
First to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, the museum dates from 1910 and its impressive Baroque form commands its Mediterranean shore. Here the Mediterranean Science Commission and a vast range of cultural and sea related objects join collections of sea life, a keeping place where the art, culture and nature of the oceans come together. It was here also that the much-loved Jacques Cousteau was director from 1957 to 1988.
To the uninitiated it is immediately obvious that the culture of the Torres Strait, because it is an island culture, is indeed a saltwater culture. What is often less understood is that Aboriginal culture, which is immensely diverse across the Australian continent, from desert to rainforest, from centre to shore, also has deep and long time connections with the oceans and seas and the numerous islands and reefs that surround the Australian continent.
Because Indigenous peoples have a direct connection to the natural world a central concern is what is happening to land and sea because of pollution, loss of biodiversity, climate change and so on. The Monaco exhibition reflects these changes through the eyes of the artists.
Taba Naba (24 March to 30 September 2016)
Taba Naba is a major exhibition in three parts that charts the cultural relationships with the oceans, in doing so describing to the viewer the sea and saltwater cultures of Australasia and beyond.
Firstly - Australia: Defending the Oceans - At the heart of Aboriginal and Torres Strait island art (Stéphane Jacob). This part of the exhibition consists of six large scale installations commissioned by the curator and created by 50 Indigenous artists, the works located both inside and outside of the museum.
The second part of the Taba Naba exhibition is Living Waters (Erica Izett). Here we see a selection of contemporary Aboriginal paintings from the Sordello & Missana Collection (Marc Sordello and Francis Missana) and works from the collection of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. This part of the exhibition also features works that illustrate Australia’s Indigenous people’s connection to sea and ocean including paintings, photographs and video installations.
The third component of the exhibition Oceania islanders: past masters in sea navigation and artistic expression (Didier Zanette) illustrates the cultural relationships that Pacific peoples have with the sea by exhibiting traditional navigational and cultural objects, portraits and marine animal representations.
Taba naba traditional sit down song and dance from Erub (Meriam Mer)
Taba naba naba no rem
Tugi penai siri
Dinghy e naba we
Sere re naba we
Taba naba no rem
Photographs courtesy the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco and the Zugubal Dancers (Badu).