Aboriginal photographer brings a people's lost history to the French capital

1st November 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 November 2007, PARIS (AFP) - Tracking ancient stone etchings, healing gardens, or landmarks tracing the paths of Aboriginal songlines, an Australian indigenous photographer brings the lost history of his people to the debut edition of a ground-breaking Paris art show.

1 November 2007

PARIS (AFP) - Tracking ancient stone etchings, healing gardens, or landmarks tracing the paths of Aboriginal songlines, an Australian indigenous photographer brings the lost history of his people to the debut edition of a ground-breaking Paris art show.

Ricky Maynard, from Tasmania at Australia's southern tip, is one of 75 photographers and 25 video-makers from 35 countries taking part in a new two-yearly world photo show launched this week, titled "Photoquai".

With 1,000 pictures on show, this first edition of the World Visual Arts Biennale, closing November 25, is being held in a dozen locations in Paris, a large part outdoors along the Seine river that snakes across the capital.

Maynard's work displayed at the country's embassy features photographs shot over 20 years recording the lives of his people in a form of visual diary.

"I call myself a story-teller," he said in an interview. "I tell the story of the landscape and its place in relation to our own oral history."

Old history books for instance, he said, claimed the last of the indigenous Tasmanians had disappeared after Australia's colonisation. "This is a myth," he said. "There is a continuing culture" with thousands of indigenous people living in Tasmania and its nearby islands.

Australia's indigenous population was estimated at 460,000, or 2.4 percent of the population after a 2001 census -- compared to up to 750,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the start of European settlement in 1788.

Using an old-style wood bellows camera, Maynard is currently at work on a project entitled "Portrait of a Distant Land" shot on his Flinders Island home-land in the Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia.

"We have always known who we are and where we came from," he said, recounting how local communities have helped him via oral history to locate historical sites where Aboriginal people were brutalised and broken, as well  as key spiritual and ceremonial places.

"These locations had never been photographed," he said. "Our people accept the photographs as their own."

Black-and-white pictures from this series, shot over two years during long treks into the Australian bush, and with two years more to go on the project, are part of the work shown during the Photoquai exhibition.

Photoquai is the brainchild of Paris's almost brand-new Quai Branly tribal arts museum, an ethnographic arthouse opened last year housing some 300,000 objects from Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas.

"This is a way of underlining the vitality of creation today in the countries where the museum's collections originated," said Quai Branly director Stephane Martin.

Among other documentary work are images of life in China today by three photographers -- Liu Lei, Yuan Xue Jun and Jiang Xiaowen -- as well as black-and-white works on Mali's earthen architecture.

Along the Seine are images of Inuit Arctic America, Jordan and Madagascar, as well as contemporary visions ranging from Iran to India to Brazil.

Polish photographer Bogdan Konopka alone offers two shows, a solo exhibition of his work on China, as well as a joint exhibition with Chinese photographer Luo Yongjin that counterpoints images from a journey the two made across China in 2005.

AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article