A Bit Na Ta

Created by David Bridie, the late Gideon ToBeovaira Kakabin and George Telek, A Bit Na Ta is a project located in ples (place): Blanche Bay in 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 through this bay 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 dukduk masks, the 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.

Music is essential to Tolai life and ceremony and the A Bit Na Ta installation is presented via new recordings of string band, lotu choir style, and contemporary soundscapes supported with archival, cultural, and landscape film. Extending on a thirty-year collaboration, celebrated musician George Telek and Australian musician, composer, and producer David Bridie have drawn around them Australian and PNG artists to tell the A Bit Na Ta story. This story is as intricate and rich as the Tubuan society, landscape, history, and people that inspire it.

The ‘a Bit na Ta’ exhibit has shown at QAGOMA, The Melbourne Museum, and the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, and the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery. The live show component has performed at WOMADelaide 2018, the Commonwealth Games Festival 2018, Walking With Spirits Festival 2017, and as part of the Midnight Oil world tour in 2017.

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