The oral traditions of the Kelabit people of Borneo are fast fading in the face of new belief systems, language loss, education systems and modernity. The knowledge that exists in stories and folklore are largely expressed in songs and chants, and in no written form. Today, only a handful of Kelabit elders remember the songs. These storytellers have a strong connection to the land and to all the clements within it. Learning these songs, Alena receives the blessing of her elders to adapt it to contemporary, urban listeners across the world. The audio presented with the painting are recordings of her “lessons” with elders. The voices are of Tepu’ Midang, Tepu Doo’ Ayu, Tepu’ Ira and Alena Murang.
COCO CABANA, MIRI, SARAWAK 19 – 21 JULY 2019
Alena Murang (UNESCO Youth Ambassador 2017)
Surrounded by the artforms of the Kelabit, Kenyah and Penan tribes from a young age, Alena’s artwork comes out of a process of joumalling her interactions with the elders. Leaming from them oral traditions through song. Alena reflects on the vast transitions that the elders have experienced in the last five decades and explores what there is left is to inherit from them. Alena has been featured on Channel News Asia, Nat Geo People, Asian Nikkei Review, Songlines Magazine and Rhythm Passport.