Thursday, December 1, 2022

‘Naga Ancestral Voices’ exhibition to be launched in Kohima today

Naga Ancestral Voices, an evocative exhibition (Sounds from the past: a conversation across centuries) will be launched on April 23, 1:30 pm at the Highland Institute, Meluri Road, P Khel, Kohima. The exhibition will enable present-day Nagas to listen to the voices of their forebears from more than 100 years ago.
The Naga Ancestral Voices exhibition will run from April 23 till May 7, 2022, presenting song recordings from the Naga Hills made on wax cylinders by British administrator and anthropologist J. H. Hutton in the 1910s, speech samples from the Linguistic Survey of India from the 1920s, as well as more recent recordings by oral traditions scholar Thomas Kaiser from the 2000s.
This exhibition, the first of its kind in Nagaland, follows a research project that returned copies of Hutton’s recordings from the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford) to Nagaland. Project lead Dr. Christian Poske said, “J. H. Hutton’s cylinders are probably the earliest sound recordings of Naga traditional music. Therefore, they hold immense cultural value for all Nagas. Our exhibition gives the people of Nagaland the unique opportunity to listen to Hutton’s recordings again after more than one hundred years and enables the Nagas to reconnect with this long-lost part of their intangible cultural heritage.”
Visitors to Naga Ancestral Voices will not only hear a range of compelling recordings but also enjoy exciting contemporary complementary visual works by Mhao Aaron, The Art Village, Kohima, and multi-media artist Temsuyanger Longkumer.
The exhibition will get off to a flying start with a performance by Hao traditional music specialist Guru Rewben Mashangva, plus an introductory talk by Dr. Christian Poske and an interview with artist Mhao Aaron. After the launch event on Saturday, the exhibition will be open from 11 am to 4 pm Monday to Saturday till May 7, 2022. Exciting educational workshops will be available for schools on prior booking.
The sound recordings and artworks to be presented in the exhibition would revolve around the theme of Naga traditional song and speech, which have served for centuries as a means for the Naga people to express their religious, cultural, and political identity. In the past one hundred years, the society, culture, and religion of Naga communities have undergone profound changes due to Christian Baptist proselytism and the influence of Western ways of life that British colonial rule and missionary work brought along. These changes reflect in the aural and visual exhibits displayed here, dating from the early 20th century to the early 21st century, bringing to life the voices of ancestors and contemporary communities.
Part of this exhibition outlines the outcomes of the research project ‘Recirculation of J. H. Hutton’s Recordings in Nagaland’, funded by the International Association of Sound and Audio-visual Archives (IASA) and conducted by Dr Christian Poske between January-March 2022, in collaboration with the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford), the Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology (Gurgaon), and the Highland Institute (Kohima). The project reconnected Naga communities with the early 20th century recordings of the British administrator and anthropologist John Henry Hutton (1885-1968), eliciting responses from listeners and gathering information on the content and context of the recordings.
Counterparts to Hutton’s cylinder recordings are Thomas Kaiser’s recordings from the early 21st century, which bear testimony to the continuity of Naga cultural identity and the changing political landscape of the wider Nagaland region. The Nagaland recordings of the Linguistic Survey of India, on the other hand, demonstrate how the British colonial administration supported conversion to the Christian faith in Nagaland and beyond through a linguistic research project, which required speakers to recite translations of bible parables in their mother tongues.
Finally, the exhibition dedicates a space to contemporary Naga music culture, characterised by its eclecticism that encompasses a range of styles. These include gospel songs, country music, pop, rock, heavy metal, rap, and Naga fusion music, which merges the musical heritage of Nagaland with modern arrangements, joining past and present.
Livestream link: https://fb.me/e/1gRjQjbMO
For details contact, Rovithono Yhome at 883 7327792, Catriona Child at 9871790647. Booking School Workshops: Lanu Aier at 70050 74609.

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