Children of the rainforest /
intrinsically woven into the fabric of life /
with one spirit, one voice, one people /
that the song of the river is your own–
Barbara L. Sykes.
“Based upon my poem of Borneo’s indigenous cultures, ‘Song of the River’ is as much a visual poem and mystic story as it is an experimental ethnographic documentary. Shot while traveling up Sarawak’s Rajang River to various longhouses of different indigenous tribes, this tape is an intimate and personal portrayal of the harmonious relationship Borneo’s indigenous people have with one another, and with the river, animals, birds and rainforest. It is a devotional piece honoring the spirituality, wisdom, integrity and essential qualities of respect and appreciation for life that these people have.
‘Song of the River’ is the second tape produced for ‘In Celebration of Life…. In Celebration of Death…’ a series of tapes shot during my fourteen month sabbatical and Chicago Artists Abroad Artists Residency in intensive research and videotape production in primarily Asia, and later, the Mid-East and Africa. The series reveals the religious, cultural and philosophical beliefs of various indigenous cultures by exploring their rituals, dance, music and daily activities.
From birth to death, special rites and ceremonies mark the important events of one’s existence, assuring a symbiosis of body and soul with the divine. This deep relationship between the people and their gods are reaffirmed through daily activity. At times, the person symbolically becomes god, strengthening their own sense of sacredness and self-respect.–Barbara Sykes Continue reading