Musée de la civilisation à Québec presents “Le musée du quai Branly. Regards sur la diversité culturelle” until February 22, 2009. Two exhibitions of African artifacts from Paris’s new Musée du quai Branly entitled “Ideqqi. Art de femmes berbères” and “Objets blessés. La réparation en Afrique” will be on display during this time.
“Le musée du quai Branly. Regards sur la diversité culturelle” will be part of the public activities program during the twelfth Sommet de la Francophonie, which will take place in Québec City from October 17 to 19, 2008. This exhibition from Musée du quai Branly was adapted by Musée de la civilisation de Québec. The exhibition is a North American exclusive presented by the France-Québec, 4 siècles de fraternité committee with the support of France’s National Assembly, the International Organization of La Francophonie, and Club d’entreprises franco-québécois.
In a news report released during the announcement of the exhibition, Musée de la civilisation Director General Claire Simard stated, “In its quest to present the human adventure, Musée de la civilisation has always been interested in foreign cultures and invited the public to explore other lifestyles, societies, ways of seeing and being, and entirely new realities in order to clarify one’s own uniqueness.” Simard also mentioned that “these exhibitions invite us to reconsider our North American and even Western concepts and to examine the diversity of cultures within the French-speaking world.”
According to the press release, the “Ideqqi. Art de femmes berbères” exhibition invites the public to enter the daily lives of Berber women from Kabylie (in northern Algeria) through 128 objects. Berber women make pottery objects—ideqqi in the Berber language—without a potter’s wheel or kiln. The pottery made by Berber women is hand crafted and baked in the open air. “The pure forms and simple, spontaneous designs lend these common objects a unique charm. They are a remarkable blend of function, form, and ornamentation.” This ornamentation is heavily inspired by traditional symbolism and is also found in weaving, jewelry, and tattoos.
The press release goes on to say that, like their pottery, Berber women adorn themselves with these symbolic images, as can be seen in oversized photos along the exhibition route. Their dark, proud gazes were captured by French photographer Marc Garanger during his military service in Algeria in the 1960s.
The “Objets blessés. La réparation en Afrique” exhibition invites us to explore one of the most common activities in Africa—repairing. In describing this exhibition, the news release states that, “while rarely included in Western collections, repaired objects open a window onto the struggle against the passing of time, the true duration of an object’s useful life, and the African concept of time. This meeting with African repairers dealing with “injured objects” takes us to the immense African continent with its expanses, horizons, heat, sun, and sand.”
The exhibition presents 110 objects that have been re-sewn, plugged, and bound together “not to restore them, but to re-establish a lost balance and let them begin a new life while continuing their intended use. Repairs must be visible because they are an integral part of each recreated object. This way, we acknowledge the full importance placed on an object by an individual or by society.”
Two short films mark the beginning and the end of the exhibition, and African rhythms accompany visitors throughout.
To learn more about this exhibition, please read the Québec government press release. You can also get more information by visiting the section dedicated to this exhibition on the website listing France’s contributions to Québec City’s 400th anniversary celebrations.