This exhibition is presented in the Garden Gallery of the Musée du Quai Branly. At 1900 sq. meters, it is the largest temporary exhibition space in the museum. It brings together over four hundred works, including sculptures, musical instruments, paintings, drawings and original documents which reflect the richness and sophistication of this archipelago.
The exhibition is divided into several sections. The first is dedicated to Marquesan creation myths. The second section is reserved for nature and daily life in the Marquesas and the third displays religious ceremonies, divinities and ancestors. The fourth section is dedicated to public ceremonies and festivities and the fifth shows the upheavals to Marquesan society after the arrival of the Europeans.
In the Marquesan language the word mata is used for the face and eyes, particularly with very large accented eyes. These eyes are the most important features in all Marquesan art, whether it be sculpture or tattoos. The eye has a special symbolic meaning as it is directly related to the ancestors. There are several possible translations for hoata: bright, clear, pure or mirror.
My good friend Carol Ivory, Professor Emeritus at Washington State University and an authentic specialist over the Marquesas, is the curator of this exhibition. Veronica Mu-Liepmann, curator of the Musée de Tahiti et des Iles from 1982-2011 is the scientific advisor.
The great French Artist Paul Gauguin once described Marquesan artists as possessing “an unheard sense of decoration” in all they created.