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Alumni event | Lecture

Van de Waal Lecture 2024 - Barkcloth: wrapping people, places and ideas

  • Fanny Wonu Veys
Thursday 12 September 2024
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
0.19, livestream available

The annual Van de Waal Lecture takes place on 12 September, to mark the opening of the academic year of the department of Art History.

The lecture will take place in the Lipsius Building, room 0.19 and will also be available via livestream on this page. Registration is not necessary, everybody's welcome.
The lecture takes place with the generous support of the RKD.

This year's speaker is Fanny Wonu Veys (curator Oceania at the Wereldmuseum). Her lecture is titled: 'Barkcloth: wrapping people, places and ideas'.

About the lecture

When Yuki Kihara, an artist of Samoan and Japanese heritage was chosen to represent the Aotearoa New Zealand pavilion at the Venice biennale in 2022, part of the walls were covered in characteristic Samoan brown-red and black barkcloth designs. Another artist, the Tongan Latai Taumoepeau did a performance at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney in 2020 with a barkcloth beater in the hand. Why do contemporary Pacific artists refer to this ancient practice of using cloth beaten out of the inner bark of the paper mulberry to get artistic messages across? Still today, many women especially in Tonga, make barkcloth to wrap in their beloved departed, but also their newly-weds or to protect important people from touching the ground. In addition, barkcloth is an essential part of ceremonial presentations by which the relationships in society are reaffirmed and materialised. This lecture will explore the presence of barkcloth in today’s Pacific spaces and beyond, showing how it binds, provides protective wrapping and conveys Indigenous ideas about contemporary society, gender, space and politics using traditional female practices.

About the speaker

Fanny Wonu Veys is curator Oceania at the Wereldmuseum, a Dutch umbrella organization comprising locations in Amsterdam, Leiden, and Rotterdam. There, Veys has curated the Mana Maori exhibition (2010–2011), Things that Matter (2017-), Australian Art (2019-2022), What a Genderful World (2019-2020; 2021-2022), A Sea of Islands (2020-2021) and Treasures from the depot: Easter Island (2022-). She co-curated a barkcloth exhibition Tapa, Étoffes cosmiques d’Océanie in Cahors (France, 2009) and Migrating Objects: Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice (2020, 2021).

Her topics of interest and expertise include Pacific art and material culture, museums and cultures of collecting, Pacific musical instruments, Pacific textiles, gender and material culture, missionary collections, and the significance of historical objects in a contemporary setting.

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