PARIS - Until July 14, 2013, The first great exhibition dedicated to this archipelago in Europe, “Philippines, Archipel des Echanges” presents 310 pre-colonial works – sculptures, pottery, textiles, personal ornaments – selected from public and private Philippine, American and European collections. Works from the Philippines include pieces of art from Manila National Museum, the Ayala Museum as well as from the Central Bank of the Philippines.
Located in the China Sea, the archipelago of the Philippines’ geographical situation between Taiwan and Indonesia – and the history of its settlement since the arrival of the Austronesians have generated powerful and varied artistic expressions.
Through the prism of exchange, the exhibition examines the essential objects of a civilisation strongly based on reciprocity. Whether symbolic or commercial, exchange creates a relationship between visible or invisible beings.
The exhibition is organised into three sections: the traditional works of the mountains and valleys of the Highlands of the north; the textiles, costumes and ornaments of the warrior, and finally the influence of the maritime network on the items produced on the coasts and in the southern archipelagos.
The exhibition offers two visions. The first, turned towards the Earth, invites visitors to detect the Austronesian influence transmitted by the ancestors of the Philippines and visible in the artistic expressions of the mountain-dwellers of the Luzon highlands and Mindanao. The second vision looks to the Sea. It examines the exchanges between the Sultanates of Sulu and Mindanao and the Indians, Chinese and Indonesians. It is also through these ancient maritime routes that the archipelago's port cities have produced a large amount of stunning gold jewellery.
"Unknown in France, Philippine art is rarely exhibited in its full breadth and diversity. With these unique objects, imbued with meaning, we pay homage to all means of artistic expression. This exhibition is an invitation to discover complex cultures, some of them a-historical, based on reciprocity", declared Constance de Monbrison, exhibition curator.
Last December, Musée du Quai Branly President Stéphane Martin explained the Quai Branly Museum pro Philippines choice during a press conference in Manila attended by over 150 participants: “The arts of the Philippines are little known in France and rarely shown in their entirety and diversity. Through these unique objects, each of which conveys a particular meaning, we pay homage to these multiple artistic expressions,” he said.
The Philippines government hopes also to generate buzz to lure potential travellers. Some 40,000 French travellers visit the Philippines every year and showing the treasures from Palawan, Davao or from ifugao tribes in Northern Luzon will certainly generate interest for the destination. This is why PAL sponsored the visit of young artists to Paris and Cathay Pacific organized special events to promote the destination to French travel agencies.
The Quai Branly Museum is among Europe’s premier museums dedicated to the arts and civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas, housing a collection of over 400,000 objects, 700,000 photographs 3,500 artworks, and 10,000 musical instruments on permanent display. The museum receives an average of 1,400,000 visitors annually.
Photo caption: The Quai Branly Museum.