An Imagined World Comes to Life
The term 'Patagonia' evokes many different concepts, both realistic and completely imaginary. This small territory in South America truly exists but is also the subject of fantastic stories that were spread by colonizers and merchants throughout the centuries. Giant tribesmen, prehistoric men and mythical creatures have all been claimed to exist in the exotic land of Patagonia.
The exposition Patagonia, Images from the Edge of the World effectively displays this multiplicity of representations — the tales and myths that have successively attached themselves to the southernmost tip of the South American continent. By juxtaposing the imagined accounts with those that we now know to be accurate, the exhibit reveals to visitors how facts and science can be manipulated to suit anthropological whims. The goal, however, is not to diametrically oppose fantastic images and scientific discourse, but rather to measure the gap between the two.
At the Musée du Quai Branly, Patagonia, Images from the Edge of the World follows a chronological timeline as it presents archived documents, photographs, literary texts and film excerpts that come principally from the museum's own collection.
Early ideas of Patagonia come to life through watercolors depicting the birds and fish that inhabited the Strait of Magellan in the 18th century, before the invention of photography. Starting from the 19th century, however, photographs guide our journey through this exhibition, and spectators can see this mysterious land and its people in images captured by explorers, artists and scientists. Visitors staying at the Hotel Regencia can see these images with their own eyes at the Musée du Quai Branly until May 13, 2012.