A New Art Installation Will Play Toto’s ‘Africa’ In The Desert Forever
The artists says it's reflective of the song's staying power!
If a song that’s impossible to get out of your head plays on a loop, but no one’s there to hear it, does it still drive you nuts? A new art installation in an isolated desert location on the southern coast of Africa has a solar-powered MP3 player that plays “Africa” by Toto on an endless loop.
The 1982 pop song was a huge hit in the United States as well as abroad and enjoyed new life in 2018 when Weezer released a cover of the tune. German-Namibian artist Max Siedentopf says his installation is reflective of the song’s staying power.
“Even though ‘Africa’ by Toto was released in 1982 it is still very much present in today’s pop culture and frequently used for memes and even entire Reddit pages are dedicated to the song,” Siedentopf told CNN. “I was very intrigued by this and wanted to pay the song the ultimate homage and physically exhibit ‘Africa’ in Africa.”
Here’s a look at what the installation looks like:
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TOTO FOREVER Set in the Namib desert, which is not only the oldest desert in Africa but the world, I set up a sound installation which pays tribute to probably the most popular song of the last four decades: Toto – Africa The sound installation consists of 6 speakers which are attached to an MP3 player that only has one song on it – Toto’s Africa. The song is put on loop and the installation runs on solar batteries to keep Toto going for all eternity.
If you’re hoping to find the exhibit, which is aptly called “Toto Forever,” that won’t be an easy task. Siedentopf likened the installation’s location to “a treasure that only the most loyal of Toto fans can find.” What’s more, it’s likely that the harsh conditions of the desert will eventually destroy the installation.
Even if they haven’t personally seen or heard it, people already have mixed reactions to the very idea of the installation.
Over at Hyperallergic, writer Zachary Small describes the installation as a “schmaltzy tune turned über-meme [that] has reached its logical conclusion, trolling its namesake continent IRL with its nostalgia-driven lyrics.”
Meanwhile, writer Zoé Samudzi lays out a more serious cause for offense, explaining the history of South West Africa’s colonization by Germans in the 19th century and pointing to the artist’s self-identification as a “German-Namibian.”
“So we might also understand this piece as an extension of enduring perceptions of African space as always being for the white taking,” writes Samudzi, pointing out that an installation meant to last forever is not so different than a flag, left behind to denote ownership.
Twitter user @mrmarcusroberts sums up both of these voices of opposition with a well-chosen gif:
— 𝕄𝕒𝕣𝕔𝕦𝕤 (@mrmarcusroberts) January 20, 2019
But Siedentopf is happy that his art is so divisive.
“Some [Namibians] love it and some say it’s probably the worst sound installation ever,” Siedentopf told BBC. “I think that’s a great compliment.”
If you’re Team Toto, here’s the original “Toto” music video. Feel free to play it on repeat to get the full effect:
What do you think of the “Africa”-themed installation?