PICO: Un parlante de África en América by Invernomuto & Jim C. Nedd

October 29-November 15 2020

PICO is a new programme of sonic inquiry led by artists Invernomuto & Jim C. Nedd.

Due to current COVID-19 spread prevention measures, online booking is required. Tickets are now available until the 15th of November, more will be released at a later date. We kindly request that all visitors observe the following guidelines:

– Wear a face covering. If you are exempt from wearing a face covering please include this information on your Eventbrite booking so that staff are aware when you enter the space.

– Maintain a 2 meter distance from staff and visitors.

– Use the hand sanitiser provided on entry to the exhibition.

– The film is 60minutes long and will start on the hour. Please make sure to arrive on time. We will hold your ticket for 10minutes before we allow visitors without a ticket to enter.

– If you have booked but can no longer make it, please cancel your booking to allow others to take your slot as there are only 5 slots available per hour.

– Please note that we are currently not able to offer visitors access to our toilets.

If you are shielding and would like to access the exhibition out of hours please get in touch at info(at)autoitaliasoutheast.org. We will endeavour to accommodate out of hours bookings whenever possible whilst the majority of staff are home working.


In this exhibition, the documentary film PICO: Un Parlante de África en América (60 minutes, HD film, 2017) examines the rich and flamboyant tradition of picós: vivid, technicolour, wooden structures housing powerful sound systems, which turbocharge street parties, bars and restaurants across the Afro-Colombian cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena.

The film brings together the various actors involved in the production and dissemination of picó culture, who together track its legacy across the cities that were once key points in the transatlantic slave routes. It is here, in the Atlantic costeño, that overlapping African and Indigenous cultures formed the Afro-Colombian context, and new aesthetic and sonic styles were popularised to represent these new linguistic and cultural groups.

These ports continued to be key entry points to the continent throughout the 20th century, granting access to emergent technologies and cultural products as well as vinyls from across West Africa. From the 1960s, local producers began using these new systems for the circulation and dissemination of music outside of mainstream radio and record production, bringing an explosion of African sound to the streets. This was dominated by the newborn genre called Champeta, which brought together Salsa, Latin and Caribbean music. As sampling technologies developed, an updated version of Champeta emerged, and later the adjacent genre Guarapo. These new Afro-Colombian sounds, reverberating from the culture of picó, came to represent acts of freedom in a national context divided along the lines of race and class.

The picó has become the loud and animated public vehicle through which this diasporic vernacular of rhythm and language is articulated, in which a diverse subjectivity is united through the empowering acts of dance and music. The film explores how these physical contexts enable communities to come together and re-define social relationships against the backdrop of racial capitalist subjugation, and how sound system culture as an attitude towards production enables producers and audiences to celebrate multifaceted and kaleidoscopic cultural histories.

For this project at Auto Italia, this investigation will situate picó culture within a global discussion on the role and potential of sound system cultures as sites of sonic resistance. This will be explored through a digital programme of text, mix and image commissions led by an international community of producers, DJs and artists for whom sonic practices are communal devices to explore the global resonances of African diasporic sound within music production. This will focus on the ways in which uprising and protest are explored through music, and highlight how the formal communalities and shared concerns resonate between networked physical and digital sound system cultures across the globe.

This investigation will also include a newly commissioned public work by Jim C. Nedd, installed on the facade of Auto Italia’s project space. This will draw from the lens of documentary film and explore the political potential of music in public environments of celebration and dissent.

This exhibition has been made possible with the support of Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Londra.

More City of London Listings MORE