Indigenous Art in the Spotlight
The Musée du Quai Branly, French President Jacques Chirac’s long-awaited €235.2 million shrine to indigenous art, was officially inaugurated on June 21 in Paris. The Quai Branly boasts a collection of 300,000 works from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, including a 19th-century Maori woman’s cloak, the prows of a war canoe and a carving from a marae entrance. Contemporary photographic works by Michael Parekowhai and Fiona Pardington are exhibited in the museum’s garden. French opinion is hotly divided over the Quai Branly – while some hail it as a symbol of the universality of art, others see it as an archaic reminder of European colonialism. Chirac has made it his project since 1996. “There is no hierarchy among the arts, just as there is no hierarchy among peoples,” he proclaimed at the inauguration.