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 that produces a dialogue between different ways of knowledge through a method of a call and response. 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, such as hydrophone recordings of sonar mapping taken on the R/V Falkor, ocean traveling chants, and an instrumental piece composed by renowned 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, perhaps even for a longer period. 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 the Ocean Space of the TBA21 Academy in Venice, and now adapted for der TANK in Basel, for you—originates from impressions of the place where the artist Taloi Havini 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. Answer to the Call is the title. Drums are an instrument used to convey the force of one body to another; they resonate deeper than the human voice. Like us, drums have skin. It is delicate and tense. Drums are rhythm and, as such, they have been at the center of communities for thousands of years. To their call, we synch. Their beats call out to our heart and the beating heart responds. 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 largest pan flute): these are the names indigenous cultures of Central and South America gave to what Europeans call a pan flute, in their eternal referencing of Greek mythologies. It is a magical instrument: four to eighteen bamboo tubes, no holes for the fingers. 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 so as not to disturb. Just then a presence emerges. And those 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. She currently lives and works in Sydney. From the Nakas clan, Hakö people, Taloi Havini was raised in the Autonomous Region of Arawa. As the youngest child of political activist parents, Havini emigrated at the height of the war. Following her family’s political exile to Australia in 1990, Havini began to document her journey’s home to the north of Buka Island, in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. 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 from the place she is from 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 as well in such a way that we understand the future cannot be—by no means—like the past.

Taloi Havini. Answer to the Call
12.09.2021 – 26.09.2021

der TANK
Basel, Switzerland


Poster, graphic design: Ana Dominguez Studio
Installation view, der TANK, Basel, photo: Christian Knörr
Installation view, der TANK, Basel, photo: Christian Knörr
Installation view, der TANK, Basel, photo: Christian Knörr