Goroka ~ Papoea-Nieuw-Guinea
Michael Mel: performance artist, teacher, writer, Papua New Guinea (b. 1959, Wila Village, Mt Hagen) Performance artist, thinker, lecturer, curator and teacher, Michael Mel is currently Senior Lecturer and Head of Expressive Arts and Religious Education Department at the University of Goroka. Knowledgeable in international contemporary arts, he is, more uniquely, an expert in the local arts and oral traditions of Papua New Guinea’s rich and diverse cultures. He focuses on issues of cultural identity and survival, education through art, the understanding and re-evaluation of indigenous wisdom and the preservation of positive aspects of local cultures. He plays a key role in the cultural development of Papua New Guinea’s highland communities and his performance/installation work, for example at the Asia Pacific Triennial in 2003, is innovative and culturally significant. He negotiates exchanges between Papua New Guinea, Australia, Asia and the world at large, and demonstrates the emergence of a new Papuan identity, linking the past with an impetus for change within a difficult political, social and economic context. Michael Mel is one of the few bridges between Papua New Guinea and the world, helping us to understand the complex cultures of the island, their philosophical concepts and cultural practices. Papua New Guinea is a zone of silence. By using Papuan methods of communication to act and speak for his communities and to challenge Western cultural dominance, Michael Mel both continues and develops Melanesian cultural forms and creates spaces of freedom for the new generations.