Berlin Salon: Phantom Shields

  • Artist
    John Wahgi; unknown artists
  • Dates
    17—28 Jul 2023
  • Catalogue
    Download now
  • Gallery Location
    Online, Berlin

The second Berlin Salon comprises three, previously unseen fighting shields from Wahgi Valley in the Jiwaka province of Papua New Guinea.

In the second half of the twentieth century, an artistic tradition arose in the Wahgi Valley of the highlands of Papua New Guinea of painting traditional war shields with the image of the comic book superhero, The Phantom. This remarkable cross-cultural exchange derived from the intersection of the age-old bellicose traditions of one of the most culturally remote areas of the world, and a twentieth-century comic book first introduced to the island through Allied soldiers in World War Two.

Three quarters of a century later, the graphic imagery of Lee Falk’s comic strip, The Phantom, remains a vital component of contemporary warrior shield imagery, and stands as a striking example of the power of imagery and narrative to cut through a seemingly unbridgeable social division.

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