The British Museum presents a new exhibition entitled Reimagining Captain Cook: Pacific Perspectives, this new free exhibition re-examines Captain Cook’s relationship with the people of the Pacific and includes eight contemporary artworks made by Pacific Island artists which have been acquired by the British Museum for this exhibition and are displayed for the first time.
The exhibition has seven sections with a focus on a place where Cook is remembered: Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii, Vanuatu and Tahiti, as well as Great Britain. Cook’s experience of each place was different and these sections explore his encounter and his legacy.
The contemporary works by artists from the Pacific Islands are all in some ways a direct response to Cook’s voyages and question ideas of conquest and civilization.
The exhibition contains 88 objects and images, including 14 contemporary works. Eight of these have been specifically acquired by the Museum for this display and are exhibited here for the first time. Highlights of the contemporary works include Māori artist Steve Gibbs’ Name Changer, Captn Cook in Australia by Simon Gende, Aboriginal photographer and artist Michael Cook’s work Civilised #12 and Cookie in the Cook Islands by Michel Tuffery.
The contemporary artworks on show provide a response to the traditional dialogue around Cook and offer new perspectives. New Zealand Māori artist Lisa Reihana ‘s work Taking Possession, Lono was recently acquired by the Museum. The work is a still image taken from Reihana’s celebrated panoramic video work In Pursuit of Venus [infected]. Reihana inserts Europeans into the landscape in order to reimagine early encounters between Islanders and Europeans.
This fascinating small, free exhibition illustrates that the British Museum and a number of other museums are beginning to question some of their possessions. Many islands of the Pacific were transformed by their encounters with Captain Cook. Two hundred and fifty years after he first set sail for the Pacific, this exhibition suggests that it is now time for Islanders voice to be heard in the debate about his legacy.
For more information, visit the British Museum website here
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