He alo ā he alo / kanohi ki te kanohi / face to face

Curatorial bodies, encounters and relations

in Curatopia
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Throughout the Pacific, interpersonal encounters are characterised by a deep level of physical intimacy and engagement – from the honi/hongi, the face-to-face greeting, to the ha‘a/haka wero, acts of challenge that also serve as a celebratory acknowledgement of ancestral presences. In these physical exchanges, relationships are built, tended and tested through an embodied confirmation of values, practices and ethics. For museums holding Pacific collections, the importance of relationships, and their physicality, persists. The increasing acknowledgement of, and interaction with, communities of origin, whose works reside in museums throughout the world, is thereby not a new practice but the current stage of a continuum of relations that have ebbed and flowed over centuries. This chapter involves the interdisciplinary work of three scholars whose research, interests and collaborations coalesce around concepts of indigenous curatorial practice. Kahanu focuses on Bishop Museum’s E Kū ana ka paia exhibition (2010), which featured important Hawaiian temple images loaned from the British Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum, as well as the Nā hulu ali‘i exhibition which gathered Hawaiian featherwork from around the world (2015/2016). She highlights how the Hawaiian practice of he alo ā he alo in cross-cultural contexts facilitated these exhibitions, thereby ultimately enabling extensive community engagement. Nepia discusses two recent programmes at the University of Hawai‘i, ARTspeak and the Binding and Looping: Transfer of Presence in Contemporary Pacific Art exhibition, as a means of examining how Pacific Island artists articulate contemporary creative practice, particularly as it relates to physical and bodily encounters. Schorch concludes the volume with a coda which historicises Curatopia and its underpinning relations and engagements he alo ā he alo / kanohi ki te kanohi / face to face.

Curatopia

Museums and the future of curatorship

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