This documentary by the French artist Floy Krouchi in collaboration with Nathalie Battus and Bruno Mourlan from Radio France is a hybrid piece that lies between music and poetic creation. It attempts to make a radiophonic connection between the mythic memory of the indigenous peoples of India and what remains today in certain pieces of music, in (people’s) memory, in singing and translation. The project began five years ago (2010) in Southern India where Floy Krouchi was then travelling. There she heard a short piece of music taken from a very ancient tradition that struck her as so strange and at once exhilarating that she decided to come home as soon as she could and spend a month gathering together what is still accessible from this strangely beautiful material that has come down to us across the centuries.
On their tribal lands, the indigenous Irula tribe hold a ceremony that tells the story of their historical conflict with, and near destruction by, the ways of the so-called civilised or modern world. This music drama, played out over 7 days and 7 nights, unfolds like a symbolic tale. To record them is to capture the oral memory of these people who belong still to the Ancient World. The sound leaves an imprint which connects deeply with our collective memory. Based on a tiny fleeting fragment, “Nothing but Bones” revisits the action at the heart of this drama, a fiction turned into history, a narrative shot through with time metaphors. Through the medium of radio our collective memory is stimulated, allowing us to share a little of what the Irula – born in the nurturing forest – had to face when confronted with the greed of the children of King Money. “Nothing but Bones” is a piece of experimental radio which leads those who have ears to hear on a path where the past seems behind a very fragile pane of glass. It is a delicate and deeply moving piece of radio.
Translation by Simon Elmes, gratefully acknowledged.