Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hidden Treasures of Australian Art Review

In this video, Griff Rhys Jones is searching to find the origin of a mask. Griff crosses the globe to the remote Torres Strait Islands between Australia and Papua, New Guinea to explore what remains of an unusually creative and warlike culture. Cut off from the rest of the world for most of their history, the islanders were fierce head-hunters who believed in magic and sorcery. Griff eventually found that the mask was used mainly at funerals and was worn by only the best dancer.

In the video, you can see many sacred dances performed for specific ceremonies, materials used by their ancestors used in their costumes and instruments today and the native tongue of the island. These traditions are very important to the people of the islands because 'white man' ruins what they have when 'he' comes around. This is why they choose to be isolated with their own beliefs, family and friends. This also shows respect for their ancestors who gave them what they have today.

A lot of materials used are indigenous to the area; wood, metals, reeds and other plant life. These items are used for more than just instruments and costumes on the islands, showing their appreciation for their culture and area.

"You can't look at objects in isolation. You have to examine the lives, ceremonies and beliefs that created them." What I think Griff meant by this kind of relates to the common saying "You can't judge a book by its cover." As in you can't look at something made by a culture and say "Yeah, this race liked to make masks" because that is not the case at all. They chose to make masks because it represented their people, their beliefs and all around everything about them. They made masks to respect their ancestors, have fun and enjoy life and put themselves in their own world where they are happy.

1 comment:

  1. Taylor, you have summarized the material from the video very well. I'm very glad that you understand the importance of stories & traditions that help to develop a true appreciation for art objects such as the mask from the video.
    I appreciate that you included the views expressed by the islanders who did not want to share their traditions, because those views help to define the lives of a group of people.
    After learning about the importance of traditions and stories, I'm hoping that it helps you to create an artwork that represents something more than just its physical form.
    Great work!