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‘Expedition Content’: A journey of sound into West Papua

Katrin Figge

The Jakarta Post

PREMIUM
Berlin, Germany  /  Fri, March 6, 2020  /  11:56 am
‘Expedition Content’: A journey of sound into West Papua

A time to celebrate: This year's Berlinale marked the 70th anniversary of the Berlin International Film Festival. (Courtesy of Berlinale/-)

The joyous laughter of children at play, the lament of mourners at a funeral, the low rumble heralding a thunderstorm — audiences at this year’s German film festival Berlinale were first irritated, then intrigued by Expedition Content. Directed by American director and sound artist Ernst Karel and Indonesian anthropologist Veronika Kusumaryati, this unique project relied solely on sound and did not present any visuals except for a few subtitles and a sequence that showed footage shot in a cage. Festivalgoers found themselves sitting in a dimmed auditorium, but instead of seeing images flickering on the screen, they listened to the sounds that were recorded during the 1961 Harvard Peabody Expedition to Netherlands New Guinea, or West Papua today. At that time, it was still a Dutch colony. “We were interested to see how sound is used in anthropology and how we us...