xpedition to be mounted in the Northland area of New Zealand, 1956-57. The recording sessions documented the knowledge of the last surviving tribal experts of traditional song and the most gifted singers of
their age. The recordings have a mythical ethos and to this day the singers are held in high esteem amongst the communities of the Northern tribes and their performances of the
quintessential northern songs are legendary. Unfortunately the recordings have been held in an academic music archive for over fifty years and rarely accessed by the descendants of the tribal experts and singers. The work I am performing uses archival recordings, song transcripts and translations to re-position their academic/custodial context and cultural isolation. The performance is a vehicle to share the recordings and introduce the songs to communities in New Zealand and international audiences who would not otherwise have access to hearing and experiencing them in performance.
The Song is a performance of poetic retrieval, a moment in time capturing the lives, voices and bodies of tribal leaders and artists living in 1950’s New Zealand. The performance explores the ethnographer and informant as an eloquent paradox; my intention is to perform as an ancestor of today, to use esoteric language and poetry to occupy an ethnographic space and try to understand what the people in the 1950’s were experiencing during the recording sessions. The objective of The Song is ceremonial transformation of the space and the contextual return of the songs to their spiritual and cosmological origins.