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Shining a light on ancient cultures in Papua New Guinea through contemporary practice

Contemporary Artist & Photographer

with guest speaker Professor Nicolas Garnier, Museé du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac

FROM 8:00 pm - Onwards
(exact time to be confirmed)




Shiva is a contemporary artist and photographer from New York USA currently living and working between Paris, London and Papua New Guinea. She took her BFA in Photography at City University of New York at Brooklyn College and continued her studies in Performance, Photography and Photojournalism at the School of Visual Arts New York and in Advanced Painting, Studio Photography at the American University in London.   

Her diverse and collaborative practice encompasses photography, film, sculpture, painting and drawing. She has a enduring artistic collaboration with Javier Barrera; Ned&ShivaProductions. Shiva Lynn Burgos is the first international contemporary artist to work in Mariwai, a small Kwoma village located in the Upper Sepik River, Papua New Guinea. She has returned three times following her first trip there in 2013 and has since been working on The Mariwai Project, a broad-ranging and long-term artists’ project and cultural exchange


Burgos has invited Professor Nicolas Garnier to contribute to the topic. Professor Garnier, Chargé de collections Océanie (Curator in charge of the Pacific Collections), Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, will present his research concerning cultural loss and how it is interpreted by modern day Papua New Guineans. He led a seven year long series of experiments on cultural repatriation conducted at the University of Papua New Guinea in collaboration with approximately 25 international museums.


The Mariwai Project has a number of diverse aims:
▪To encourage and assist the Kwoma in keeping their culture alive in a changing world.
▪To inspire museums to engage with and encourage the living cultures and communities represented in their collections and to bring a new audience and purpose to the museum collections.
▪To encourage a live dialogue with ethnographers, anthropologists, museum personnel, collectors and dealers and a new engagement with the region
▪To tell the story of the Kwoma Ceiling panels and the people that made them and in doing so to reveal a wider story about the value of myths and culture.
▪To provide artists materials and support for the new ceremonial house in Mariwai
To take artists and others (linguists, dancers, musicians, architects, scientific community, etc.) to Mariwai to engage with and be inspired by Kwoma culture and traditions. We currently have a discreet search and selection process in progress and have been working with the village to ensure a welcome and enable guests to have a deep and meaningful engagement with the community.
▪To give to the people of Mariwai the opportunity to study their own history and culture as it has been recorded, analyzed and presented by outsiders. We have presented them with copies of the available books on Kwoma art and history along with other relevant historical documents and photographs to form a small library.
▪To research historic museum collections and their relation to current practices in the region
▪To encourage and facilitate responsible cultural tourism in the region
▪To work with other agencies to provide support for healthcare, education and development in the region. 
▪To work with local communities and other organizations to ensure the continued awareness and preservation of the natural environment and ecosystem of the Sepik River.

Working together with a group of village women Shiva Lynn Burgos developed the Women’s Tapestry Initiative using embroidered tapestry as a means for artistic expression by stitching the wool onto a substrate vinyl mesh that has a commercial purpose as mosquito netting. Together Burgos and the group created a series of these tapestries which combine representational symbols, such as fish and birds, together with bilum-style motifs and contemporary designs to create a new art form in which women can participate fully.

The extraordinary ceremonies involved in initiating a spirit house were filmed using photography and video as well as both aerial drone technology and also the latest innovations in 360 degree filming. In collaboration with Sydney based Paper Moose Studio a rig of 10 cameras filmed at the same time all directions. The resulting film stitches these together to make an immersive experience which virtually teleports the sights and sounds of the Sepik River. As this is still a new platform we enjoy the position of being at the forefront of the technology and pushing the medium in several directions.  Our goal is to create a new way of seeing and experiencing the content by stretching the boundaries of both video art and documentary film.

For more information please consult

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