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Patong: La grande scultura dei popoli del Borneo dalle Collezioni del Museo delle Culture di Lugano [Patong: The great sculpture of the people of Borneo from the collection of the Museo delle Culture of Lugano, Switzerland]. Altrarti 2, Milano: Edizioni Mazzotta, 2008. [www.mcl.lugano.ch] In 2007 the Museo delle Culture of Lugano, Switzerland, presented a temporary exhibition of Bornean art entitled "Patong. Great figures carved by the people of Borneo."
This was held at the Galleria Gottardo, Lugano (see BRB vol. 37, 244-45, 2006), and, coinciding with the event, a booklet was published describing the 39 artworks included in the exhibition, each identified by ethnic group and function, together with an account of a Bahau or Modang coffin-end depicting in high-relief the thunder spirit Pen Lih (Campione 2007).
In 2008, the MCL took the Patong exhibition abroad. From 5 October 2008 through 15 February 2009, the exhibition, now called "Patong. The great sculpture of Bornean people" was presented in Italy at the Villa Borromeo d'Adda exhibition hall in the city of Arcore, located a few minutes from Milan, in the heart of the northern industrial area of Brianza.
The exhibition was made possible thanks to MCL, the Antonio Mazzotta Foundation (Milan), the Councillor of Cultural Identity and Autonomy for the Lombardy Region, the Councillor of Performing Arts for the City of Monza and Brianza, and the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities of Milan. The aim of this second exhibition was to introduce to the Italian public Bornean art and culture.
For the exhibition's inauguration, a 180-page catalogue in Italian edited by Paolo Maiullari and Junita Arneld was published by Edizioni Mazzotta. The catalogue is the second volume in the MCL's Altrarti series.
The Patong catalogue consists of eight essays and two sections of color illustrations. It opens with a series of forewords by the Governor of Kalimantan Tengah, Agustin Teras Narang; the Councillor for Cultural Identity and Autonomy for the Lombardy Region, Massimo Zanello; the Councillor for Cultural Assets and Activities of Milan, Daniela Benelli; the Councillor for the Performing Arts for the City of Monza and Brianza, Gigi Ponti; the Mayor of Arcore, Marco Rocchini; the Councillor for Culture, Vittorio Perrella; and the President of the Antonio Mazzotta Foundation, Gabriele Mazzotta.
The first essay entitled "Progetto Patong" [Patong Project] was written by the director of MCL, Francesco Paolo Campione. It describes how the Borneo collection was assembled by the Swiss artist Serge Brignoni, who bequeathed his entire collection to the city of Lugano in 1985. It also describes the three-year project prior to the Arcore exhibition and the work that went into the publication of the exhibition catalogue. The article also coins a new appellation for Bornean great figures: the general term patong (or patung), as opposed to the earlier hampatong. The term hampatong first appeared in the scientific literature in an article in Nederlandsch-Indie Oud & Nieuw (Bertling, 1927) and in time assumed the generic meaning of "sculpture" in reference to Bornean art, without any geographic or cultural distinction, especially in European and North American tribal art circles. The term patong (or patung), which is taken from the root of the word hampatong, also refers locally to "sculpture," constituting the root of the word for "sculpture" use by a number of Bornean ethnic groups and in the Indonesian lingua franca. The article concludes by presenting the goals of the Patong project for the next years. These consist of completing an in-depth examination of aspects of Bornean art, organizing an international seminar and exhibitions that will project an image of indigenous people of Borneo that is respectful of the complexity, originality, and richness of their almost unknown artistic and cultural values. …