A Bit Na Ta: The source of the sea
Melbourne Museum, September 2017
Project developed through Wantok Musik Foundation
GEORGE TELEK (Musician, Rabaul PNG)
DAVID BRIDIE (Artistic director, Music Producer, Melbourne Australia)
GIDEON KAKABIN (Project historian/Cultural Artist, Rabaul PNG)
KEITH DEVERELL (Video Artist, Hobart Australia)
With additional works by LISA HILLI (Visual artist, Rabaul PNG/Melbourne Australia)
a Bit na Ta is a project located in ples (place): Rabaul, East New Britain, PNG. Specially commissioned for the exhibition No 1 Neighbour: Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016 at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, the project engages with the enormous changes that have washed over the century 1875-1975 from the perspective of the Tolai peoples who inhabit the lands surrounding it. Central to the Tolai community’s capacity to survive the disruptions of shifting colonial powers, war, volcanic eruptions and independence struggles, marking this period was the strength and importance of their Tubuan society. Perhaps best known to the uninitiated through the iconic birdlike Dukduk and Tubuans, the highly secretive and complex Tubuan society continues to play a significant role in Tolai spiritual and everyday life; its edicts governing relationships to land, resources and people (ancestral and present).
Music is also essential to Tolai life and ceremony and the a Bit na Ta story is presented via new recordings of singsing tumbuna (ceremonial song), string band, lotu choir style and contemporary soundscapes supported with archival film and new footage of the landscape and ceremony. a Bit na Ta builds upon a 30-year collaboration between celebrated Tolai musician George Telek and Australian musician, composer and producer David Bridie who have drawn on their Tolai wantok (family) and friends including historian and artist Gideon Kakabin to tell the a Bit na Ta story. In Kakabin’s words:
A Bit na Ta. The source of the sea. Life begins here.
Marmari aria bit na ta
I valu e
Ra oaga na pipi
come from inside the sea
his canoe, a boat of lightening
a Bit Na Ta is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.