Until March 20th, “Regards sur la Papouasie Nouvelle Guinee” is an exhibition of photographs taken by Peter & Georgina Bowater in the early 1970s in the Highlands, especially in the Mendi area of the Southern Highlands and a mere 20 years after the Mendi peoples’ first serious contact with the outside world.
Even in the 1920s the Highlands of Papua New Guinea were believed to be uninhabited. It was not until the mid 1930s that this huge island’s apparently impenetrable mountain ranges were discovered to be the home of an extensive and orderly agrarian civilisation over 4000 years old.
The Highlanders’ sophisticated but enigmatic culture had flourished for thousands of years but in the 1970s was still firmly in the stone age. The selection of photographs in this exhibition sets out to show aspects of a colourful and vital way of life, intensely theatrical and richly symbolic. Customary gatherings and displays provided both entertainment and insight for the people.