In February 2019, Maggie had the opportunity to organize the Pacific Arts Association (PAA) panel at the 107th annual conference of the College Art Association in New York City. This annual affiliated panel is a unique opportunity for the PAA to share its research with a wider audience who might otherwise not have the opportunity to learn about the robust artistic and cultural production in the Pacific Islands. The panel theme was inspired by a session at the European Society for Oceanists conference that Maggie co-chaired with colleague Marion Cadora. That panel, titled “Intervening Archives of Oceania” was a diverse collection of approaches to defining the “archive” in the Oceanic context.
Maggie wanted to continue this conversation at CAA by looking for cross-disciplinary and innovative approaches not only to the Oceanic archive, but also to theories and methodologies that could be used or developed to study this unique region. Brittany Myburgh spoke about Lisa Reihana’s digital work In Pursuit of Venus (Infected) to argue that Indigenous new media projects by Oceanic artists are a specific Pacific methodology that disrupt notions of linear time, mediate colonial representations, and recover perspectives that are obscured in other types of archives. Mariah Briel spoke about 17th century European maps of the Pacific as archival traces of ignorance - a fascinating instance of a theoretical framework having the capacity to open up spaces of inquiry that are specific to Oceania’s unique history of cultural contact with Europe. And finally, Henry Skerrit challenged mainstream curatorial processes by viewing exhibitions and museum collections not as “archives” on display, but instead as active sites of knowledge production through close collaboration with the community from which these objects come. Dr. Skerrit’s presentation was especially exciting because he joined the panel via Skype in order to present alongside the artists about whose work he was speaking – providing a much needed Indigenous voice among a panel of non-Indigenous scholars.
Maggie’s travel to New York was generously supported by the Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence.