Apa kabar? What's new? explores the relationship and tensions between mainstream culture and local remixes.

Remixing the mainstream

A seemingly universally understandable popular visual language has emerged online. Photos of politicians, celebrities, music clips, vlogs and personal videos are quickly spread to a worldwide audience. The social media remixes that emerge as a reaction to this, in turn, go viral and join the mainstream. Childish Gambino’s This is America, one of the most talked about videos of 2018, was subsequently remixed as This is Nigeria and This is Iraq, with each also receiving millions of views online.

Remixes, emoticons, and GIFs make up the ingredients of this universal visual language. But, how well do we actually understand each other? Do we transcend the original local context with these new visual languages, or are we falling short? And how new is this remix culture?

For the exhibition Apa kabar?, programme maker Maria Lamslag selected artists and DJs whose practices establish exchanges between mainstream culture and local contexts. They mix recognisable images from online media with personal visual languages or subtly respond to dominant cultures. In doing so, they often draw inspiration from their multilayered cultural identity. As such, the exhibition connects themes such as online culture, mestizo cultures, global citizenship and cultural ownership.

The interior of Apa kabar? also plays with contrasts between the personal and specific on one side, and a global mainstream on the other. Interactive installations in a living-room-meets-record-store vibe are set against a more traditional exhibition space showing a selection of photo, video, online and mixed media works. A supplementary programme of live music, DJ sets and panel discussions focuses on the parallels between artists and musicians and their relationship to mainstream culture.

During Apa kabar? (What’s new?) MAMA’s showroom becomes an accessible research space where you can check for yourself whether cultural exchange and the remixing of mainstream culture is problematic or liberating.

The Indonesian ‘apa kabar?’ means ‘what’s the news?’ but is used to ask ‘how are you?’ In Indonesia this expression rarely gives rise to confusion: everyone answers, ‘good’ or ‘not so good.’ The English exhibition subtitle ‘What’s new?’ is a nod to the common mistranslation of ‘Apa kabar?’ and refers to how ‘what’s new’ and ‘how are things’ seem to be interchangeable online too.

For most projects we – just like many other art institutes – write and print neat little handouts, which serve as an additional source of information. These handouts usually contain background texts about the artists and the works that are being shown. Within the framework of Apa kabar? (What’s new?) it seemed only fitting for programme maker Maria Lamslag to ask designer Oana Clitan to spice things up a bit. The result is a remix of this traditional form of communication; a classic newspaper mixed with new forms of media. Come pick up your physical copy at the showroom or read an online version here.

Apa kabar? (What’s new?)
Remixing the mainstream

With works by: Caetano, Oana Clițan, Irineu Destourelles, Agan Harahap, Sandim Mendes, L.C. von Sukmeister, Adison and Sekan.

Curated by: Maria Lamslag

Campaign image: Agan Harahap, Childhood Memories #2 – Notorious B.I.G., 2018

In Real Life Events
March 29: Opening: Apa kabar? (What’s new?) / 18.00 – 21.00
April 20: MOMO x MAMA: Hallo, halo, hello! Hallo Bandung / 14:00 – 15:30
April 25 – 28: Wokeness in music @ Poppositions, Brussel
May 26: Hip-Hop x Anime Pubquiz by Team MAMA / 17.00 – 22.00

Review by Metropolis M – in Dutch.

About HOME

HOME is the leitmotiv by which we encourage conversation about conceptions regarding belonging, representation and identification. HOME is a fundament, the place you return to and anchorpoint for the journey onward. HOME (offline as well as online) is the start of feeling connect to others. Under the name HOME we also present exhibitions in the showroom of MAMA. In collaboration with young makers we express interpretations about HOME | IN REAL LIFE | NETWORKS.

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