Michael Mel – ‘The arts as tools for social and cultural transformation in Papua New Guinea’

Dr Michael Mel (University of Goroka, Papua New Guinea)
‘The arts as tools for social and cultural transformation in Papua New Guinea’

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Thursday, 17 December, 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm, UTS Building 10, Level 5, Room 580

Abstract: This talk will explore the historical and contemporary role of artistic practices as a vehicle for dialogue and exchange between individuals and communities in Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinean communities have a long history of the arts being elemental in community life and exchange. However colonial experiences have disrupted these community structures, leaving Papua New Guineans situated between traditional and contemporary Western life. There is great need now to reassert and renew the arts as a vehicle for community engagement and dialogue. What artistic opportunities can be created to offer Papua New Guineans a real chance to build processes that have a foundation in their own cultural context while at the same time engaging, challenging and confronting those from the outside?

The Komuniti Tok Piksa Project, between the Centre for Health Communication (UTS) and the University of Goroka, focuses on using the arts as a process for dialogue and exchange in order to challenge Papua New Guineans on matters relating to HIV/AIDS.

Performance artist, thinker, lecturer, curator and teacher, Dr Michael Mel is Associate Professor in cultural education and indigenous processes of art and Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Goroka. Renowned for his expertise in the traditional arts and oral traditions of his people, he uses performance to explore issues of cultural identity and dispossession. Through works that engage the senses using music, dance, body painting and decoration, he encourages Papuan New Guineans to take pride in their indigenous cultures and to challenge assumptions of colonialism. For his work in promoting and celebrating indigenous culture and development in Papua New Guinea, Dr Mel received the Prince Claus Award in 2006. He was both the first Pacific Islander and the first artist to be recognized in this way.

Please RSVP to [email protected]

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