Politics

Sarawak’s Kulleh Comrades seeks funding to perform at Venice Biennale 2022

Kulleh Comrades is set to perform on the opening night of aabaakwad at the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia in Venice, Italy on April 22.

KUCHING (April 11): Kulleh Comrades – a group of six indigenous performers from Sarawak – is seeking financial aid to enable them to perform at the Venice Biennale 2022 in Italy.

According to a statement from cultural organisation Pusaka yesterday, the group was invited to be part of aabaakwad (‘it clears after the storm’), a gathering of international Indigenous artists, curators, and thinkers, taking place at the Venice Biennale 2022 in celebration of indigenous heritage from April 21-26.

“While travel and accommodation are covered by the organisers, Kulleh Comrades is currently seeking sponsorship or contributions from the public to assist with their daily expenses during their week at the Venice Biennale,” Pusaka said.

“Kulleh Comrades will perform at the opening night of aabaakwad at the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia on April 22. They will also participate in panel discussions and poetry readings throughout the gathering from April 21 to 26.”

Iban singer-songwriter and poet Kulleh Grasi, who leads the group, said the involvement of indigenous artists from Sarawak at the prestigious Venice Biennale 2022 is an honour and important opportunity in the ecosystem of indigenous art in Southeast Asia.

Besides presenting indigenous music, visual art, and literature of Sarawak and Malaysia to the global stage, he explained, the occasion offered the group an opportunity to expand its network and promote understanding of indigenous art and culture from around the world.

“We hope that Malaysians will come forward to support our voyage to the Venice Biennale,” he said.

Kulleh Comrades represents an indigenous music project founded specially for the Venice Biennale 2022.

The group specialises in experimental music rooted in indigenous traditions from Sarawak with compositions incorporating folk songs, poetry, and Nusantara ballads to create a striking soundscape that is uniquely Malaysian.

The other performers of Iban and Bidayuh heritage are ground-breaking Iban musician Gabriel Fairuz Louis, experienced musicians from the Dayak Cultural Foundation Stanny Benedict and Boy Nelson, as well as emerging singer Jen Rossem and music teacher Matt Dalin.

Kulleh’s book of poetry ‘Tell Me, Kenyalang’ (translated by Pauline Fan, published by Circumference Books in New York) was shortlisted for the National Translation Award 2020 and longlisted for the 2020 Best Translated Book Award in the United States.

Aabaakwad is an annual Indigenous-led conversation on indigenous art by those who create, curate and write about it.

The gathering alternates annually between Toronto and international venues, showcasing a dynamic dialogue that examines themes, materials, and experiences in Indigenous art practised globally.

Founded in 2018, aabaakwad brings together over 70 artists/curators/thinkers from over 39 First Nations and eight countries.

Founded by Wanda Nanibush, an Anishinaabe curator of Indigenous Art at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario), it is Indigenous-led and artist-centred.

For details on Kulleh Comrades at Venice Biennale 2022, email kullehcruz@gmail.com.

For details on aabaakwad at Venice Biennale 2022, visit: https://aabaakwad.com/current-gatherings/.

Kulleh Comrades is set to perform on the opening night of aabaakwad at the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia in Venice, Italy on April 22.









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