Bet­ter for Bor­neo

> Alena Mu­rang mar­ries her smarts and arts to ben­e­fit oth­ers and bring back the beauty of Bor­neo

The Sun (Malaysia) - - YOUTH - Flight.

your work is all about your com­mu­nity and her­itage.’ I was quite trou­bled by that for a few months, but then I started ART4 (i.e. art for) – as a hash­tag, ini­tially – promis­ing my­self to use art as a medium for so­cial im­pact.

“Even­tu­ally, I started tak­ing com­mis­sioned art­work and per­for­mances to ART4 (www. ale­na­mu­ I also do man­age­ment con­sult­ing, and the rev­enue I get from those I chan­nel into cul­tural her­itage and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact projects,” ex­plained Alena.

This Satur­day, the multi-tal­ented lass is host­ing a pub­lic launch for her de­but EP, Flight which was re­leased last month.

Have you ex­plored your English and Ital­ian roots? I stud­ied in the UK for five years, but I was a bit naive. I didn’t like Eng­land be­cause I didn’t see any cul­ture, which to me, meant colour­ful tra­di­tional garbs, beads, cel­e­bra­tions and dances

back then. Only when I was a bit older I re­alised cul­ture is ef­fer­ves­cent.

I’ve never lived in Italy, but I try to go back ev­ery year. I re­ally con­nect with where my grandma’s from, which is Naples in south­ern Italy. It’s rich in his­tory and cul­ture, and in a lot of ways peo­ple there are very sim­i­lar to Malaysians. They love their food, and park on yel­low lines. I do want to ex­plore that side more – I just haven’t done it yet.

How is sto­ry­telling through paint­ing, danc­ing and play­ing mu­sic dif­fer­ent for you? Hon­estly, paint­ing is my first love. I feel that I do mu­sic more, but I’d rather paint – it’s my ul­ti­mate form of ex­pres­sion. With the sape, I don’t write my own songs so I don’t ex­press all of my­self through it. I use it as a medium to tell sto­ries of my roots. I do tra­di­tional dances to keep the art form, so the only sto­ries I tell are why and when we used to dance.

Which was the most in­ter­est­ing project you’ve done un­der ART4? In Jan­uary last year, we col­lab­o­rated with Biji-biji Ini­tia­tive to up­cy­cle a he­li­pad in Gent­ing Highlands. It wasn’t used any­more so they wanted an art on it. We painted a big bird, where one of the wings came out as a 3D sculp­ture – made us­ing metal parts welded by Bi­jibiji.

About 80% of ev­ery­thing we up­cy­cled were from Gent­ing. We rum­maged through its waste man­age­ment area, and found old casino chairs, pots and pans; and took apart an old Trans­former – it was like a play­ground for us! But it was taken down early this year, be­cause Gent­ing is go­ing through a trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme. Out­door art is al­most al­ways ephe­meral.

Tell us about your EP, My mu­sic is quite tra­di­tional, but I want to make it re­lat­able, so that peo­ple in the ur­ban set­ting and peo­ple who don’t know any­thing about Sarawak are able to as­so­ci­ate with it. In Flight, I play the sape and sing, and it’s backed by other in­stru­ments such as vi­o­lin, harp and some per­cus­sion.

She hopes to make a con­nec­tion be­tween in­dige­nous peo­ple and ur­ban folk, by show­ing the ”same, sim­ple hu­man wants and needs” in her por­traits of the for­mer.

Alena can also play the clas­si­cal guitar and sax­o­phone.

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