Centre Culturel Tjibaou

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Nouméa, New Caledonia

The Centre Culturel Tjibaou (Tjibaou Cultural Centre) in Nouméa, New Caledonia, will open with an official ceremony on May 4, 1998.

The $80 million arts and museum center, spanning nearly 7,000 square meters, encompasses exhibition spaces, performance areas, a permanent gallery and a multi-media library and resource center.

The Centre Culturel Tjibaou (C.C.T.) aims to affirm the place of Kanak identity in the French territory.

The C.C.T. has been designed by world renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, who has borrowed from the island's indigenous culture in his brilliant radical design. The Centre's buildings, 10 huge shell-like forms, constructed from laminated wood and metal, are reminiscent of traditional Kanak "cases" (houses).

The C.C.T. will be a new center of creation and a cultural meeting place for Kanak and Pacific artists.

It is bound to become an icon in the Pacific region on a par with the Sydney Opera House and the Te Papa Museum in New Zealand.

The Centre Culturel Tjibaou will open to the public on June 16. The launch will include artists and performers from Australia and the Pacific in a festival of music, theater and dance.

The Centre Culturel Tjibaou is dedicated to the memory of Jean-Marie Tjibaou, the pro-independence Kanak leader, who died tragically on the 4th of May 1989.

His widow, Marie-Claude Tjibaou, is president of the Agence de développement de la Culture Kanak (A.D.C.K.-Centre Culturel Tjibaou).

For further information, photographs and press kits, please contact:

La Nouvelle Agence du Pacifique Pierre Grundmann: Ph. and Fax: 61 3 9596 0673 e-mail: grundman@netspace.net.au Jean-Jacques Portail: Ph. and Fax: 61 3 9329 9494 e-mail: jportail@netspace.net.au


The Centre Culturel Tjibaou, a magnificent new building of cultural and architectural significance, on a scale as grand as the Sydney Opera House and New Zealand's Te Papa Museum, in Wellington, is about to open in Nouméa, New Caledonia.

Rising above Nouméa's stunning lagoon, the Centre Culturel Tjibaou's extraordinary sculptural forms immediately excite the visitor's interest. Renzo Piano's radical architecture embodies the Kanak people's modern vision of the island's history, culture and art - past, present and future.

Less than two hours from eastern Australia and New Zealand, the Centre Culturel Tjibaou (CCT) is a spectacular introduction to the Kanak world; the first step for a visitor's rich encounter with the unique tradition and culture of Melanesia.

After its traditional opening and dedication on May 4 1998, the Centre Culturel Tjibaou will be open to the public in June 1998.

An Historical Vision

The Centre bears the name of Kanak leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou.

Before his tragic death in 1989, Jean-Marie Tjibaou was at the forefront of the Kanak people's search for its historical, political and cultural identity.

In 1988, Jean-Marie Tjibaou signed the Matignon Accords with the French government, and the local pro-French political leaders, which for ten years defined the political and economic development of New Caledonia. The aim of the Accords was to correct the imbalance between the Kanak and European communities, and to prepare a common future.

The construction of the Centre was decided in 1990 as the last of the "grands travaux", the major cultural institutions established by the late President François Mitterrand (the Louvre pyramid, the new National Library, la Grande Arche de la Défense, the Opéra Bastille; all in Paris).

Today, the CCT has an important part to play in the political process of re-evaluation and reconciliation presently taking place in New Caledonia.

Its construction, costing a total of 320 million Francs (80 millions AU$) has been financed by the French Government; it has been designed and is managed and operated by the local Agence de Développement de la Culture Kanak (ADCK).

The ADCK- CCT's president is Mme Marie-Claude Tjibaou, Jean-Marie's widow.

A Cultural Vision

The CCT will be the center of preservation, development, creation and diffusion of traditional and contemporary Kanak culture. It will preserve the heritage of an ancient and rich world, and nourish new artists expressing the modern one. The CCT will exhibit significant heritage items of the Kanak people lent by museums around the world. It will also encourage contemporary work by commissioning new pieces. A large place will be devoted to exhibiting new works from Kanak artists and others from the region: Aboriginal Australia, Maori New-Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, etc.

A state of the art resource center and multimedia library, using the most advanced technologies, will enable the public to discover and study the Kanak world and Pacific cultures.

Even the experience of Kanak food has not been overlooked: Kanak and Pacific specialties will be served in the panoramic restaurant.

An Artistic Vision

The Centre Culturel Tjibaou is an important junction in the cultural exchange within the Pacific region. It will actively promote local art. Fifteen monumental sculptures, some 7 meters high, have been commissioned in the region. These art works, unique to the area, were conceived for the CCT by their creators in Papua New Guinea, West Irian, Vanuatu, Arnhem Land in Northern Australia, as well as by Maori artists and Kanak sculptors. The collection of contemporary Kanak and Pacific art housed in the Centre will be one of the most significant assembled to date.

A huge performing area accommodates a 400-seat theater and two outdoor performance areas, (1,000 and 2,000 seats). All types of performances have been organized: Kanak, Aboriginal and Maori popular music; traditional music and dances; contemporary choreography. Among the artists already programmed: Australia's Yothu Yindi, the Bangarra Dance Theatre and Aboriginal choreographer Raymond Blanco.

An Architectural Vision

"I realized, as I approached the site, coming from Nouméa, that the Cultural center must be immediately visible, making an unambiguous statement. I propose to make the cultural center the symbol of Kanak culture". Renzo PIANO, June 1991.

Designed by world-acclaimed Italian architect Renzo Piano (Centre Georges Pompidou, in Paris), the CCT building itself is a brilliant fusion of form and function. Inspired by the majesty of the site, as well as the traditional architecture of the Kanak people, Piano's building is an ambitious and inspired collaboration between the ADCK, the land and his design.

The Centre is situated on 8 hectares of superb tropical gardens, on the Tina Peninsula, minutes from the center of Nouméa. Its buildings occupy a total area of 6.970 square meters. They are accessed by a landscaped pathway initiating the visitor into Kanak myths. The Centre's basic design is inspired by the traditional lanscaping and building of a Melanesian community: ten soaring "cases" (huts or pavilions) rising high among araucaria pine trees and palms and linked by a center alley way.

Piano's sculptures are constructed with skeletons of iroko laminated wood, and are designed to withstand cyclones. Their average area is 90 square meters, and the highest reaches 28 meters: the looming structures line one side of the covered pathway and each has a specific as well as symbolic function. On the other side, runs a low glass and concrete structure which houses the vast exhibition and performing spaces.

After its traditional opening and dedication on the 4th of May 1998, the Centre Culturel Tjibaou will be open to the public in June 1998.

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