The Wantok Musik Foundation works on various art installation projects with particular focus on Indigenous Australia and Melanesia.
A BIT NA TA
a Bit Na Ta (The source of the sea) 2016
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 church choir style and Contemporary soundscapes supported with archival, cultural and landscape film. Extending on a thirty year collaboration, celebrated Tolai musician George Telek and Australian musician, composer and producer David Bridie have drawn around them friends and family as well as those of Tolai historian and cultural artist Gideon Kakabin, to tell the a Bit na Ta story. This story is as intricate and rich as the Tubuan society, landscape, history, and people that inspires it.
The installation sees the resurfacing of a long-lost 1972 documentary, Mataungan. A film left incomplete for 44 years, it depicts the Tolai political movement and struggle for independence from the Australian colonial administration. Illustrated within the film’s narrative is the death of District Commissioner Jack Emanuel: the only political assassination in Australia’s history.
Accompanying the installation will be a CD release featuring a rich interweave of stringband, choirs, atmospheric soundscapes and contemporary PNG sounds that are central to the a Bit na Ta story. A natural extension of Not Drowning, Waving’s seminal 1990 release Tabaran, the CD touches upon the decades-long artistic relationship between David Bridie and George Telek, whilst featuring both established artists and rising stars of Melanesian music, including Anslom, Gilnata and Amidal stringbands, Pius Wasi (Sanguma, Tambaran Culure), and John Phillips (Not Drowning, Waving). The CD will be released on the Wantok Musik label in October 2016.
'No.1 Neighbour: Art in Papua New Guinea 1966-2016’ is showing at the Queensland Art Gallery, 15 October 2016 - 29 January 2017.
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.
Work for kustom outcomes is a positive thing for the village. It is a healthy pursuit. George sings praise for these.
Tatabai is a collaboration between George Telek, John Phillips and David Bridie.
Rabaul was part of the Neu Guinea Kompagnie up until the the beginning of WW1. The first military engagement for Australia and loss of life was at Bitapaka, Rabaul, September 11,1914. “Six Australians and one German soldier died. However, the great tragedy is that we do not know the identity of the 30 New Guinea soldiers who died at Bitapaka.
David Bridie composed the music, Gideon Kakabin, a man of historical and cultural knowledge who guided the a Bit na Ta project wrote the words, and David enlisted a choir from Matupit village, the sons and nephews of Gideon Nakikus who sang the song Lapun Man on the Tabaran record. An abot is a song that tells a story.
Iau Nunuk is a welcome to ceremony. A man looks out to the ocean past the reef break, out past the point at Nodup and the Duke of York Islands, towards the mountains in distant New Ireland where the clouds and the mountains merge and where the Gunantuna people originally came from. He thinks about what this means for him.
He thinks about a Bit na Ta, the source of the sea. He hears the ocean calling him.
For complete album credits and streaming, please visit "a Bit na Ta" at the Wantok Bandcamp website