“Tapa” is the Polynesian word for fabrics made from a special type of tree bark which can be painted and used for variety of purposes. Oceania, in particular, has a rich, multifaceted tapa culture, which the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum presented for the first time in Germany in a special, large-scale exhibition. The exhibition featuring international loans (e.g. from New Zealand and Australia) and pieces from its own collection compared and contrasted contemporary works of tapa. The presentation focused on various aspects, such as gender, religion, identity, migration and diaspora, and examined these further in discussions with artists and in workshops. The project included an accompanying publication with current research contributions and a design competition open to Fashion and Product Design students in Cologne. The exhibition illustrated the importance of tapa for Oceania, from the first expeditions there in the 18th century to contemporary artworks of tapa today. Film and audio stations allowed visitors to experience the history and personal stories behind the approx. 250 exhibited works. This enabled visitors to draw connections between the past and the present, daily life and art, and from island to island. The goal was to encourage debate about the presentation and representation of non-European works and address how they are appropriated by Europe.
Artistic directors: Oliver Lueb, Peter Mesenhöller
Curatorial advisers: Nicholas Thomas (GB), Sean Mallon (NZ)
Artists: Andreas Gursky, John Pule (NZ/NU), Shigeyuki Kihara (JP/WS/NZ), Michel Tuffery (WS/NZ), Fatu Akelei Feu'u (WS/NZ), Dagmar Dyck (TO/NZ), Angela Tiatia (Samoa/NZ), Nelson Salesi (FJ), Robin White (NZ), Rosanna Raymond (Samoa/NZ), Filani Macassey (FJ/NZ), Timothy Akis (PG), Mathias Kauage (PG), Cecil King Wungi (PG), David Lasisi (PG), Kivu (PG), John Mann (PG), Brenda Kesi (PG), Dapeni Jonevari (PG), Fate Savari (PG), Ivy-Rose Sirimi (PG), Linda-Grace Savari (PG), Sarah Ugibari (PG).