Made in Oceania
Social and Cultural Meaning, Conservation
and Presentation of Oceanic Tapa
Interdisciplinary Symposium of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum – Kulturen der Welt in cooperation with the Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences (CICS) of the University of Applied Sciences Cologne
Both social anthropologists and conservation scientists are fascinated by tapa. Historical tapa designs are often living cultural heritage, but today’s objects also combine content, form and tradition in new ways and are intimately connected with the social and cultural identity of individuals, groups or even nations. With tapa being completely alien to European traditions, conservation scientists are challenged by the material and its restoration and preservation. Although being similar in quality, it is not paper, and although often being used as such it is not really textile. Additionally various colours, adhesives, and other materials might have been combined with it. Conservation and restoration therefore require shared efforts between different experts. Size and fragility are additional challenges. Questions of adequate presentation in exhibitions touch upon both disciplines – particularly when cultural requirements of the source communities additionally come into play.
Bringing together renowned scientists of both disciplines from all over the world, the conference presents cutting edge research into the social and cultural meaning of tapa, the possibilities and challenges of restoring and conserving historic and recent examples and their presentation in exhibitions. Findings and theories can be openly discussed with an interdisciplinary and international audience. Topics include the material and aesthetic qualities of tapa, their use as everyday objects and markers of identity, connections to modern art, and challenges of their new existence in museum contexts. Whereas all these questions play an important part in exhibition practices and the research of both disciplines, an exchange of knowledge and experience apart from the absolutely necessary rarely takes place. “Made in Oceania” creates the unique opportunity to tear the barriers down between both disciplines and discuss questions from different perspectives but with a shared interest.