Get your fringe on

The in­au­gu­ral Rain­for­est Fringe Fes­ti­val cel­e­brates the art­ful di­ver­sity that is Sarawak.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Arts - By ROUWEN LIN star2@thes­

THE in­au­gu­ral Rain­for­est Fringe Fes­ti­val (RFF) is all set for a grand 10-day arts and cul­tural spec­ta­cle in Kuching next month.

RFF kicks off on July 7 and ends July 16. It will serve as a lead-up event to the Rain­for­est World Mu­sic Fes­ti­val (July 14-16 at the Sarawak Cul­tural Vil­lage), which turns 20 this year.

The RFF pro­gramme, in re­flect­ing Sarawak’s rich mul­ti­cul­tural iden­tity, in­cludes a wide ar­ray of events, rang­ing art ex­hi­bi­tions to talks, film screen­ings to mu­sic per­for­mances, and a craft, fash­ion and vin­tage mar­ket.

“Sarawak is one of the few states in Malaysia that has all the right in­gre­di­ents for a ‘lo­cal’ fes­ti­val, amaz­ing raw re­sources and cre­ativ­ity in spades,” says Joe Sidek, RFF fes­ti­val di­rec­tor in a re­cent in­ter­view in KL.

“The fes­ti­val’s ob­jec­tives are to mainly sup­port layering of the Rain­for­est World Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, cu­rate lo­cal con­tent, and ini­ti­ate lo­cal in­ter­ests and own­er­ship of the mu­sic fes­ti­val. It is pri­mar­ily for Sarawakians to know and un­der­stand the huge trea­sure trove the state has for de­vel­op­ment of arts and cul­ture,” he adds.

One of the highlights not to be missed is Sada Kamek: Mu­sic Of Sarawak, a con­cert, fea­tur­ing home­grown tal­ents such as pop singer Dayang Nur­faizah, in­die rocker Noh Salleh, pop singer Pete Kal­lang, ac­tor/singer Tony Eu­soff, and mas­ter sape player and artist Mathew Ngau, who can of­ten be found tour­ing the world.

The Sada Kamek: Mu­sic Of Sarawak con­cert will be on at the Kuching Am­phithe­atre to co­in­cide with the launch of the RFF on July 9.

Be­sides mu­sic, there will be art ex­hi­bi­tions held through­out the RFF at The Old Court House in Kuching, a vi­brant se­lec­tion of more than 120 paint­ings, pho­tog­ra­phy, sculp­ture and installation works, that of­fer an in­ti­mate look at the state’s nat­u­ral beauty, peo­ple and tra­di­tions.

Travel into the past with Sarawakian pi­o­neer pho­tog­ra­pher K.F. (Kok Fou) Wong’s snap­shots of the many tribes in Sarawak, taken through a Rollei­flex (a medium for­mat film cam­era) from the 1940s and 50s. A vis­ual chron­i­cler of the Dayak peo­ple, Wong cap­tured these pho­to­graphs dur­ing his many trav­els deep into the in­te­rior of Sarawak where he met and stayed with the Dayak com­mu­nity in their long­houses and ob­served their cus­toms and tra­di­tions in ev­ery­day life.

Pho­to­jour­nal­ist Jimmy Nel­son’s work on tribal and in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, and Kuching-based pho­tog­ra­pher and botanist Ch’ien Lee’s stun­ning wildlife and na­ture pho­tog­ra­phy, are among the names fea­tured in the pho­tog­ra­phy seg­ment of the ex­hi­bi­tion.

As for the vis­ual artists, Sarawakian artist and re­searcher Kendy Mi­tot com­bines the tra­di­tional arts and cul­ture of the in­dige­nous peo­ple, in par­tic­u­lar the Bi­dayuh tribe, with art in­no­va­tion, such as me­dia ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. Rit­ual cer­e­monies, myths and sym­bol­ism, all of which fea­ture heav­ily in ev­ery­day life of the in­dige­nous folk, are given promi­nence in his work.

There­are­manyother­artists whose works will of­fer a glimpse into the rich her­itage of Sarawak, past and present, in­clud­ing Alena Mu­rang, a musician, dancer, artist and so­cial en­trepreneur, all rolled into one, who presents a nos­tal­gic look at the na­ture of Bor­neo and the peo­ple she met grow­ing up in Sarawak, and Raphael Scott Ah­beng, the mas­ter of Sarawak’s nat­u­ral land­scapes who has a pen­chant for red in his pal­ette.

Also check out Spencer Byles’ out­door ex­hi­bi­tion with the nat­u­ral sculp­tures he is so well-known for where he utilises the rain­for­est as his can­vas.

Delv­ing into his­tor­i­cal arte­facts, the ex­hi­bi­tion presents high qual­ity prints of a se­lec­tion of the ceil­ing pan­els of the Court House dat­ing back to 1955 when the cu­ra­tor of the Sarawak Mu­seum com­mis­sioned six Ber­awan men from the long­house of Long Je­gan, from near the Tin­jar River, to paint pan­els for the Court House ceil­ing. To­day, only 40 pan­els, many of them badly dam­aged, re­main.

A craft and vin­tage mar­ket, held on the open­ing week­end of RFF, of­fers hand­made and ar­ti­san items rang­ing from vin­tage to con­tem­po­rary, util­i­tar­ian to the aes­thetic. From tribal sto­ries to eco-friendly prod­ucts and tra­di­tional hand­i­craft wo­ven by deft hands cap­tur­ing the soul of the rain­for­est, this mar­ket of­fers a lit- tle some­thing for ev­ery­one.

Daily film screen­ings, a pri­vate fash­ion gala and a se­ries of in­for­ma­tive talks on Charles Hose and Alfred Wal­lace, two British ex­plor­ers and nat­u­ral­ists, round up the RFF pro­gramme.

The Rain­for­est Fringe Fes­ti­val runs at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in Kuching, in­clud­ing The Old Court House, the Kuching Am­phithe­atre, The Wa­ter­front Ho­tel and Cul­ture Club from July 7-16 For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.rain­forest­ RFF is or­gan­ised by Joe Sidek Pro­duc­tions Sdn Bhd and is hosted by the Min­istry of Tourism, Arts, Cul­ture, Youth and Sport Sarawak, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Sarawak Tourism, and the Rain­for­est World Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.


Kendy Mi­tot’s art is tied to his Sarawakian roots, mak­ing him an ob­vi­ous high­light at the Rain­for­est Fringe Fes­ti­val. He draws in­spi­ra­tion from the items used dur­ing the Gawai rit­u­als and also cre­ates works us­ing sago fronds, boyuh tree bark, rat­tan, beads, bells and other ob­jects pro­cured from the rain­for­est.

— AZ­MAN GHANI / The Star

Alena Mu­rang, musician, artist, dancer and so­cial en­trepreneur, will be pre­sent­ing her artworks as well as per­form­ing in Sada Kamek at the in­au­gu­ral Rain­for­est Fringe Fes­ti­val.


In­die singer Noh Salleh is part of the Sada Kamek: Mu­sic Of Sarawak con­cert on July 9.

— Rain­for­est Fringe Fes­ti­val

Get up close and per­sonal with Spencer Byles’ nat­u­ral sculp­tures that build on the mys­ti­cal rain­for­est as his can­vas.

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