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>New Guinea

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>Lately I’ve been listening to the Sacred Flute Music From New Guinea ( click to download) while at work because it’s quiet music that allows me to focus. What’s so striking to me, though, is how aesthetically different it is from the images of New Guinea I had in my mind. There is, of course, the mythology of New Guinean cannibalism that enshrouds the place. People still wonder if Michael Rockefeller was eaten while on an exploration to New Guinea. Rockefeller is important to me because it’s his work that gave me my first tactile impression of the culture of New Guinea. At the Metropolitan Museum, the Rockefeller Wing is a room filled with New Guinean sculpture and woodwork. And nothing stands out more than the masks, pictured on New Guinean’s to the right. It’s one of my favorite rooms in the museum (my mom’s too). After listening to the quiet, peaceful flute music of New Guinea, I’m struck with how different the soft sounds seem from the harder, tougher images in the museum. Is it pure orientalism to assume that those masks represent something a bit aggressive, or is there something nice about recognizing the poles of art in a given culture?

Written by alexgfrank

December 1, 2009 at 5:34 pm