It is with great pleasure that we present an exhibition based on
the fieldwork of two members of the art department at Lehman College,
both of whom have done primary research in one of the most remote,
least explored regions remaining in the world today. Inhabited by
peopIes without a written history, whose tools and agricultural
techniques scarcely differ from those used in the Stone Age, much
of the territory that is now Papua New Guinea has been visited only
by missionaries and colonial administrators.
Despite their generic similarities, the artifacts and ceremonies
of these peoples vary considerably from place to place. Wholly distinct
cultures with different languages exist in relatively close proximity.
The Baining make strikingly expressive boldly patterned accoutrements
for use in ceremonies that seem, by Western standards, almost unstructured.
The Gimi adorn themselves with fantastic costumes made of plants,
earth, and feathers for performances that reflect common experience
in dramatic form. Baining objects, discarded after use, can be preserved
for study and for the enjoyment of outsiders; the art of the Gimi
can be captured only on film.
The masks, painted bark cloth, and drawings of the gaining people
on display in the Gallery are from the collection of George and
Sarah Corbin. They were acquired by Dr. Corbin while conducting
art historical field research in East New Britain in 1972-1973 and
1982-1983. Most of the photographs of the Baining were taken by
Dr. Corbin during these two field expeditions. David Gillison's
extraordinary color photographs of the Gimi were taken in 1981 and
1983 ire the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea as part of a
long-term study of Gimi speaking people of Unavi Census Division.
Gillison a photographer and artist, and his wife Gillian, an anthropologist,
first went to live among the Gimi of Ubaigubi village in 1973 and
are still engaged in the study of their art, myth, ritual, and kinship.
We are privileged indeed to share George Corbin and David Gillison's
unusual experience and unique knowledge of two cultures which surely
soon will change beyond recognition under the impact of Western
Nina Castelli Sundell
Director, Lehman College Art Gallery