Julian Abraham “Togar”: Too good to be OK

    Julian Abraham “Togar”: Too good to be OK

    Sep 23–Dec 11, 2023

    • Images
    • Text
    • Press
    • Sponsors
    • Related

    SculptureCenter announces Julian Abraham “Togar”: Too good to be OK, the artist’s first solo exhibition in a U.S. institution.

    For a running schedule of OK Studio events, click here.

    Too good to be OK continues and builds upon Julian Abraham “Togar”’s long term work with sound, ranging from percussive signals in urban spaces to shared communication through music, bands, and jamming. Sound has been both a central medium in Togar’s individual practice and a feature of his socially-directed and collaborative projects. The exhibition in New York incorporates sonic elements from works first generated in other social and political contexts, underlining a stance of global decolonial solidarity derived from the artist’s position living and working in Indonesia. With newly-commissioned musical instruments, audio works, kinetic sculptures, video, painting, and live events, Too good to be OK is Togar’s experiment with the “ongoing-ness” of his expansive form of artmaking. Moving forward, his work will develop new sounds, recompose itself as it shifts contexts, and distill ideas and methods from past endeavors to open the potential of new shared acoustic spaces.

    Togar’s ongoing OK Studio (2020–present) is the core of his exhibition at SculptureCenter. OK Studio describes both a physical place for music and events and a more theoretical space concerned with the function of art in imagining what to do with public space. Set up in SculptureCenter’s lower level galleries, it is a participatory environment that offers visitors the chance to “co-exercise, co-experiment, co-instigate, co-investigate, co-practice, co-produce, co-distribute” what can be learned through active listening. Since its informal beginnings during the 2020 pandemic lockdown at the Rijksakademie residency in Amsterdam, the project has organically evolved and transformed with each iteration, making the studio, in the artist’s words, “an instrument with its own potentiality.” At SculptureCenter, OK Studio will appear as an open, self-playing composition, with an instrumental system of automated ocean drums, shruti boxes, gongs, megaphones, and other devices, along with new ideas integrated into regular jamming and live programming within the larger timeline of the exhibition.

    Other new and newly-realized works contribute to the larger sonic installation, including sculptures that deploy the signature percussive sounds used to attract customers by some Indonesian food vendors, and others that draw attention to the sounds of fermenting juices. For the exhibition, SculptureCenter has commissioned a new installment from Togar’s ongoing video series Drummer’s Gonna Drum (2017–present), in which the artist visits various built and natural environments and drums on various surfaces. His new work connects the Dutch colonization of Indonesia to an acutely impactful moment in New York’s own colonial history. Togar filmed Drummer’s Gonna Drum #03 on Run, a tiny island toward the eastern side of the Indonesian archipelago. In 1667, Britain traded Run for the Dutch-controlled Manhattan, capitalizing on the soon-failed Dutch desire to dominate the nutmeg trade in Southeast Asia. Togar’s new video work highlights the interconnectedness of strikingly disparate places – two small islands on opposite sides of the world, one a fishing village and one now a locus of global finance – and the blunt colonial transaction that binds their histories together.

    Julian Abraham “Togar”: Too good to be OK is a multifaceted, activated dive into the artist’s exploration of rhythms and systems, made elastic by exhibiting across international contexts. Initiating, supporting, and questioning the connections between environmental sounds and musicians, as well as the dynamics between musicians and audiences. Julian Abraham “Togar”: Too good to be OK invites the public of New York, in Togar’s words, “to be with it, play with it, sit with it, and move with it.”

    Julian Abraham “Togar”: Too good to be OK is organized by SculptureCenter.

    Julian Abraham “Togar” (b. 1987, Indonesia) is a multidisciplinary artist, musician, social researcher, and pseudo-scientist. In his practice, Togar often considers how to function within his surrounding realities, resulting in work that combines his different skills and interests such as music, soundscapes, active listening, programming and workshops. Togar was recently a resident at Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. He also recently participated in the 58th Carnegie International (2022-23), documenta fifteen (2022), the 17th Istanbul Biennial (2022), Triennale di Milano (2022), and the Sydney Biennale (2018), alongside group exhibitions like Love Songs For The Savages, De Appel, Amsterdam (2021); Unorganized Response, Auto Italia, London (2019); and Pressing Matters, Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2018). Recent solo presentations include Ulah Tanah at RUCI Artspace, Jakarta, Indonesia (2019) and ~IIINNNGGG~ at Cemeti Institute of Art and Society, Indonesia (2018).


    Generous support for Julian Abraham “Togar”: Too good to be OK is provided by Natasha Sidharta and Jun Tirtadji | ROH.

    Leadership support for SculptureCenter’s exhibitions and programs is provided by Carol Bove, Barbara and Andrew Gundlach, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Jill and Peter Kraus, and Teiger Foundation. Major support is provided by the Marguerite Steed Hoffman Donor Advised Fund at The Dallas Foundation, Karyn Kohl, Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, Eleanor Heyman Propp, and Jacques Louis Vidal. Support is also generously provided by the May and Samuel Rudin Foundation, Inc., with additional funding from Candy and Michael Barasch, Sanford Biggers, Libby and Adrian Ellis, Jane Hait and Justin Beal, and Amy and Sean Lyons.