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Australian Aboriginal Artworks Expo Hits Beijing

"Our Place: Indigenous Australia," a traveling exhibition produced by the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and Museum Victoria, Melbourne, is running at the National Museum of China in Beijing until June 16.

The colorful cultural exhibition offers visitors 260 set pieces including paintings, textiles, weavings, sculptures, carvings, pottery, photographs, prints, posters, and video works, mixed with the sounds of contemporary Aboriginal music.

Featured are objects from the 19th and 20th century Indigenous collections of the Museum Victoria and Powerhouse Museum.

Many of the artifacts on display are associated with Aboriginal hunting, gathering and carrying which represent their enduring relationship with the Australian landscape, the fundamental basis of indigenous belief systems that sustains communities, organizers say.

It is this relationship that is at the heart of this incredible story of cultural renewal and revival, demonstrating art has always been part of everyday Aboriginal life for the last 40,000 years.

According to Kevin Fewster, director of the Powerhouse Museum, every piece on show is unique and precious.

"The vibrant exhibition provides a new focus for an overseas audience which may have a very limited knowledge of Aboriginal people. It demonstrates how some of the oldest living cultures in the world are adapting to the challenges and opportunities of the new millennium.

Clearly there will be an emphasis on indigenous cultural renaissance which has captured the world's attention in the visual and performing arts," said the director.

The exhibition also in part tells the stories of the often violent clashes between ancient civilizations and the modern world; stories of destruction and devastation, and the will to survive and triumph.

The exhibition was debuted during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games in Greece. It is also dedicated to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, organizers say.

On a reciprocal note, preparations for a traveling exhibition on the Great Wall to be held in Australia are under way, said Wang Fang, a research fellow with the National Museum of China who is working on the project with Claire Roberts, a senior curator with the Powerhouse Museum.

(China Daily April 18, 2005)


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