TONG TANA is a mix of documentary and radio drama, poetry and soundscapes. Its narrative is based on personal reflections, observations and commentary from forest people themselves and one of the lawyers working on native customary right to ancestral land cases. Soundscapes are comprised of forest and river crossings, actual treks into the Sarawak highlands and into the depths of the Ulu Baram, well near the centre of Borneo itself.
TONG TANA – Eine Sprech-Wort-Fusion was commissioned by Austria’s ORF/KunstRadio and first broadcast on 31 August. I spent two months in Austria, much of that time working on TONG TANA with the support of KunstRadio’s team and the studios at the infamous Funkhaus in Vienna.
All melodic works were based on field recordings of one of the traditional instruments of Sarawak, the Sapeh. Melodies drawn from one of these recordings was used to create the soundscapes heard throughout TONG TANA, including the mellotron voicings a third of the way through.
TONG TANA was originally conceived of as a live performance. The earliest iteration was performed by Garton in collaboration with the South African based Benguela on 31 July 2009, at the Alliance Française, Cape Town. Garton further developed the work during a two-year artists residency at Dunmoochin, a residency program established by the late Australian artist Clifton Pugh and set in the bushlands of outer Melbourne.
- Writer, producer, composer, narrator – Andrew Garton
- Executive Producer – Elisabeth Zimmermann / KunstRadio
Find out more about Sarawak’s forest people:
- Bruno Manser Fonds – for the peoples of the rainforest
- Sarawak Gone – The Last Forest Communities of Sarawak
- Sarawak Report – reporting on corruption, rights and justice
Memefest 2014 recognition for socially responsive communication/design/art
Friendly Competition – Visual communication practice, Critical writing and participatory art.
What amazingly beautiful secrets are in that forest.
I’m listening to this on a gorgeous Sydney day. The rain has finally stopped. I’m feeling it all.