What I love about Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac is that you get to travel to faraway countries without having to fly. And the exoticism of new (to me) cultures makes me dream for days afterwards. “Madagascar, arts of he great Island” has just opened with serious moments on how to succeed in your own death and much more playful images of straw hats and colorful sculptures.
Madagascar was first discovered in 2 000 bc by Indonesian sailors who arrived with Indian and African servants. In the 9 th century, muslim merchants established basis on the island and imported coins, calendar and the patriarcal system of Islam. In 1500, the Portuguese Diego Dias is the first European to establish himself there. Madagascar is then used as a stopover on the way to India by the French. In the XVI th century, at last, a local kingdom is established by King Andriamisara. But the island will only be independent in 1960 when Philibert Tsiranana becomes the first president of the Republic.
The exhibition shows how sculptural some of everyday tools are with wooden spoons and straw hats and boxes. A top hat in straw, directly inspired by European fashions of the 19 th century, particularly amused me. Many magical amulets worn by warriors as necklaces or headdresses, are incredibly artistic. They are the expression of communication with the spirits of nature. Funeral sticks are also very decorated with beads and shells.
The show devotes its last room to contemporary sculpture in Madagascar with Jean Jacques Efiaimbelo’s funeral sticks, Madame Zo’s fabrics and Pierrot Men‘s photographies of rice fields which are beautiful.
360 pieces have been assembled here by Aurélien Gaborit curator of African art at Musée du Quai Branly. The show is very whimsical and Madagascar’s position at a crossroad of three continents is well represented. Films and photographs of landscapes complete the impressions of the island. Until 1/1/2019. Musée du Quai Branly.
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