Kastom Kalja (traditional Melanesian values) mo Christianity first met in May 1606, one tangible artifact of that first meeting is the name of the island we now know as Espiritu Santo. In the early years there were Christian attempts to eradicate Kastom Kalja from the islands of Vanuatu. However, kastom Kalja prevails albeit changed from that first meeting 411 years ago.
The worldwide community of museums will celebrate International Museum Day on and around 18 May 2017.
The objective of International Museums Day is to raise awareness of the fact that, “museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples”.
The theme chosen for 2017 is “Museums and contested Histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums”.
From a curatorial perspective we were interested in responding to this theme by exploring the relationship between Kastom Kalja and Christian culture as it is represented in collection held by the Vanuatu Cultural Centre as part of a wider global conversation. Some of the objects exhibited are representative of a cross-cultural hybridization of visual motifs whilst others are representative of material change in form or practice.
We have come a long way in cross-cultural understandings since the 17th century; illustrated in the preamble to our constitution in the following phrase;
‘…founded on traditional Melanesian values, faith in God, and Christian principles…’. (reference date?)
This exhibition, is a mapping of the visible signs of how Kastom Kalja has changed through the influence of Christian culture... and if Christian visual culture and practices have been changed/challenged through the influence of Kastom Kalja. We invite you to view the exhibition whilst considering these ideas and how ‘...traditional Melanesian values, faith in God, and Christian principles...’ are visible in the material culture of Vanuatu today…