Critics’ Picks

Julian Abraham “Togar” and Grace Samboh, Jatiwangi Cup Calendar, 2015, twelve digital prints, each 15 3/4 x 12 5/8''.

Julian Abraham “Togar” and Grace Samboh, Jatiwangi Cup Calendar, 2015, twelve digital prints, each 15 3/4 x 12 5/8''.


“Unorganised Response”

Auto Italia
44 Bonner Road
July 6–September 8, 2019

In Christelle Oyiri’s Collective Amnesia (Call and Response), 2019, a woman dances in a museum, taking viscous, gliding steps as the marble floor beneath her gains a transparent layer of archival riot footage. Cars burn and lights flash, suggesting the resurfacing of exultant scenes long repressed. The video reflects, from a Parisian context, on the recent uptake of Logobi, a fast-paced Ivorian dance, by black working-class banlieusards. From its soundtrack emerge recognizable elements of “Just Because This Is a Funeral Doesn’t Mean We Can’t Rave,” from Oyiri’s 2018 album Mere Noises, released by the artist under the DJ name crystallmess. At an earlier moment in Collective Amnesia, ten thousand notes of Ivory Coast currency fill the screen, their design illustrating national growth through advances in telecommunications. Images of two male street dancers succeed this literal money shot, the hands of one of the pair appear to unleash flames, then a few lines of text hint at constant mental and physical adaptivity as responses to economic stress: “Every month they would come up with a concept: Sagacité / Pédaler / Equilibrer / Mastiboulance.”

The freely available Unorganised Response Reader (2019)—edited by Auto Italia and displayed as a series of printouts clipped together in a golden card cover—features dual language (English and Indonesian) interviews between members of the artist-run project space and their collaborators here, whose work resists the incursion of industrial development standards.

For instance, Julian Abraham “Togar” and Grace Samboh’s Jatiwangi Cup Calendar, 2015, resulted from a British Council–funded trip to meet artists running project spaces in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Twelve pages of the calendar hang in a horizontal row, each featuring a full-body photo of a worker from a local roof-tile factory and participant in the annual bodybuilding contest initiated by the artists. Like Oyiri’s video, “Togar” and Samboh’s project proposes de-hierarchizing traditional working-class and professionalized artistic forms of expression.