Date Posted: 2004-03-23 17:53:40
Last week saw the collaboration between Thai, Lahu, Akha and myself 'the honkie'. We communicated in 4 different spoken languages to get some understanding of what we were doing.
The aim of the two day collaboration was for the Lahu Village of Ban Jalle to develop a 10 minute showcase of their dances and song for the official launch of the Hilltribe Culture Museum situated in their village. The Hilltribe Culture Museum is a long term project for the Mirror Art Group funded by the Rockerfella Foundation. It also has a virtual component - the Virtual Hilltribe Museum. It is coordinated by Jon, and has a fantastic team of young people from the various hilltribes working gathering and collecting info on each tribe. Nice. I like it, however I'm a bit scared about Museums and concepts like a museum, becausee a museum suggests a dead culture, the hilltribe people are alive and kicking! It's a very imperial way of viewing the world, to archive a culture to then be pixelated on-line for the benefit of the 'western world'
James Clifford wrote about ethnography as a science which was - . (a) 'form of collecting culture... (which) highlighted the ways diverse experiences and facts were selected, gathered, detached from their original temporal occasions and given enduring value in a new arrangement. Collecting - at least in the West, where time is generally thought to be linear and irreversable - implied a rescue of phenomena from inevitable historical decay or loss.
That aside the process over the two days was to introduce the people from Ban Jalle to basic drama skills to see if they were also interested in forming a drama group like the Akha women. Then a process of selecting the fave dances and songs and putting them in a 10 minute format.
Following that the Akha women from Ban Leepa joined us for a workshop together, then performed a piece they had been working on.
The evening was a huge success, alot of laughter and talk of things to come.
The next day we continued to prepare the performance for the launch of the museum.
Not being able to speak Thai or Lahu came as a wonderful blessing. For the first time I could seriously sit back and let the people sort it out for themselves. I became redundant, it was a great feeling, to have set up the process and the space for these people 'to do it for themselves'. They felt proud, I felt pretty good too.
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