Artist calls for community consultation when displaying culturally sensitive artefacts

Artist calls for community consultation when displaying culturally sensitive artefacts

Artist calls for community consultation when displaying culturally sensitive artefacts

Updated 28 March 2014, 17:00 AEDT

Public display of taboo artefacts is a complex challenge for museums and galleries, further complicated by the digitisation of collections on the web.

Melbourne-based visual artist Lisa Hilli draws from her Tolai cultural heritage from PNG to create video art installations, films and most recently body adornments using Pacific weaving techniques.  
 
Through her arts practice she explores and interprets Pacific cultural histories and customs.  Her research brought her in 2010 to the Australia Museum which houses over 60,000 Pacific artefacts.
 
She says she was fortunate to be guided through the collections by a Pacific person, who was aware of her cultural sensitivities.  However more recently she was confronted with the public display of Tolai men's taboo carvings which, as a woman, she was not supposed to see.  
 
Lisa Hilli says museums and galleries need to engage in active consultations with Pacific communities about the presentation of culturally sensitive artefacts. She discussed the role and responsibililties of cultural institutions in displaying real or virtual Pacific collections at the 2014 Contemporary Pacific Arts Symposium, held recently in Melbourne.    
 
Presenter: Isabelle Genoux
Speaker: Visual artist Lisa Hilli