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September 14, 2021

Taloi Havini
Answer to the Call

Institute Art Gender Nature, FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel

Taloi Havini, Answer to the Call, 2021. Design: Ana Dominguez.

Answer to the Call by Taloi Havini will be presented in its second utterance at der TANK curated by Chus Martínez. Answer to the Call, is a multi-channel sound piece, which uses an ancient compositional technique. Through the inclusion of her own Hakö language and instruments that conjure her navigational ancestors, Havini moves beyond a sonic measuring of space and distance, asserting the presence of a much deeper, cyclical understanding of the ocean, space, and time. The track evolves to include archival sources, ocean traveling chants, and an instrumental piece composed by Bougainville musician Ben Hakalitz.

Someone just offers you her home, an island. You hesitate at first, but then you see the blue and understand you are invited to inhabit the island for a while. It is true that you can sense the sea. At first, it is unthinkable, to perceive this island as a real island in the Pacific, but then it appears. Do you know how the curve of the earth was shaped? The same energy made this wonder. It is only natural that this work—first conceived for TBA21–Academy's Ocean Space in Venice, and now adapted for der TANK in Basel, for you—originates from impressions of the place where the artist herself is from: Bougainville. You are invited to inhabit this space and listen to the sounds that come like how the clouds are pushed by the winds.

Four elements are entangled in this composition: the drums, the pan flute, the ancestors, and the ocean herself. Drums are rhythm, they have been at the center of communities for thousands of years. Ceremonies, rituals, festivities, wars, or just talk broadcast these rhythms into the sky. And from there comes the sound of the flute, recalling the breath of the earth, from the lungs of the player. Ika, Chulli, Malta, Sanka, Toyo: the names indigenous cultures of Central and South America gave to what Europeans call a pan flute, in their eternal referencing of Greek mythologies. The sound emerges directly from the mathematics of the universe translated into breath. The universe that also expresses itself sonically in the depths of the ocean and in our singing voices, like in the chants of the ancestors. We congregated on this island to be able to touch those sounds, to greet these phenomena, to become the answer to the call with our presence. Call and response is a bond. One that is not in our heads but in all our organs, in the legs moving, the torsos swinging, the ears following, the eyes shut. The times of the past come closer, the millions of years of the oceans’ existence become tangible, the voices of those no longer with us become present. Time and space made a pact thanks to this piece to celebrate a presence beyond histories.

Taloi Havini is an artist from Bougainville Island, in the Pacific. From the Nakas clan, Hakö people, Havini was raised in the Autonomous Region of Arawa. Following her family’s political exile to Australia, Havini began to document her journey’s home to the north of Buka Island. Havini’s considered approach to art-making responds to the tensions and aftermath of the German plantations, Australian colonial mining pressures, and the deadly Bougainville conflict around indigenous land rights and independence of the 1990s. If you ask her to describe her own artistic practice she says “ceramics,” but she also says “mining,” “archive,” “coconut revolution,” “blood regeneration.” These materials mingled in her practice with the needed images of human and territorial exploitation of the resources, the images of the lives of others by those that occupied the land. But also, new life emerges thanks to art, and art serves as the ground where materials regenerate, from which they get a new meaning. They touch nature and us in such a way that we understand the future cannot be—by no means—like the past.

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