Matahdatah: M.I.A.’s New Cultural Endeavour


Last month, English-born, Sri Lankan songstress M.I.A. debuted a video via Apple Music titled “Matahdatah Scroll 01 ‘Broader Than A Border’“.  The video is said to be the first one in a series for M.I.A.’s upcoming audio-visual album about cultural borders. The entire project has been dubbed Matahdatah.

The Matahdatah is traditionally said to be the journal of Matangi, one of the ten Tantric goddesses and a fierce facet of the Hindu Divine Mother, Devi. The goddess is said to govern speech, music, knowledge and the arts. M.I.A. will periodically release several musical bundles over the coming months. Each bundle will include several new songs, all of which will be accompanied by videos that she directed and edited herself. Each video will be shot in a different country, and will eventually make up the full-length album and film experience. The LP’s entire theme can be summed up with the phrase:  “broader than a border”.

M.I.A. made the following comment on the project: “I directed and edited my first music video for ‘Warriors’ for my last album, Matangi, and I held it back until now, because it inspired me to make a whole series of songs and videos on the concept of borders. Making songs and videos at the same time out of a suitcase on location is something I did on my album Kala, but its video, as well as music, made by me in a very Arular way.”

The video was filmed in West India and Africa, and meshes together two of M.I.A.’s songs,  ‘Swords’ and ‘Warriors’. The parts of the video that feature ‘Swords’ were filmed in an Indian temple. The singer used the clang of the metal swords for the song’s beat.  The ‘Warriors’ component was shot in Cote D’Ivoire, and features a man who impressed the singer with his dance moves in a Youtube video. She ended up tracking down the dancer, flying to him, and playing him the ‘Warriors’ track. M.I.A. said: “He did his thing for me. He is a spiritual warrior and communicates through dancing. It’s a lifelong commitment for him to be the designated spiritual body that channels that dance.” The goddess Matangi also appears intermittently throughout the video, in a kind of trippy sequence.

M.I.A. disclosed that she will shoot videos in ten more countries, but doesn’t know which ones yet, saying cryptically: “Sometimes I move vertical and sometimes I move horizontal.”




About Author

Rebecca Loeb

Rebecca is a graduate in English Literature, with both a B.A. and M.A. in the subject. She enjoys writing on issues in modern culture, particularly about controversial political situations and artistic endeavours in emerging market countries.

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