Body Language: Adornment & Identity in the Pacific

November 5, 2004 - February 5, 2005


A unique and landmark exploration of the Pacific Islands’ particularly rich history of cultural change, adaptation and resistance, evolution in gender roles and more, all told through the fascinating and often surprising lens of bodily adornment. Body Language: Adornment & Identity in the Pacific, open November 5, 2004 - February 5, 2005, will address four main topic areas: rank and status; ritual and ceremony; aesthetics, beauty and attraction; and performance. The objects in the exhibition — from feathered capes and headdresses to fiber and kapa clothing, tattoos, leis, jewelry and cosmetics — will provide numerous points of departure for exploring societal beliefs and values, the effects of cross-cultural contact, and the use of motifs, materials and technology.

More than just a historical account, the exhibition is an animated and vibrant celebration of the human experience both past and present, and the universal drive to define and redefine oneself as a human being. Rather than take a strict chronological approach, Body Language will juxtapose historical and contemporary objects and photographs from a variety of Pacific Islands cultures, providing a dramatic, engaging and entertaining framework that facilitates within visitors a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultural traditions and contrasts, and promotes critical thinking and respect for diversity.