Auto Awac, Collective in distribution, Netherlands, 1981
Auto Awac was an Amsterdam-based collective founded in 1981 by Kees de Groot and included other artists at different times, such as Emile Toorop, Ron Sluik and Frank Morssinkhof. Auto Awac pursued a mixed-media practice, in which sound experiments played a prominent role. Their work has been exhibited throughout Europe and the members have realized various artistic and cultural projects on their own since they stopped working together in the mid-1980s. Auto Awac primarily used video in order to create 'video diaries' or 'visual memos' that document spontaneous performance actions done by the group. Often occurring in studio settings prepared by the artists, these activities include the creation of basic electronic music using analogue instruments and found objects, and spontaneous movement performances intended to bring out the subversive potential of video and performance art by undermining individual artistic control. These performances sometimes employed theatrical costumes and objects, evoking religious symbolism or mystic ritual traditions, demonstrating how culturally recurring signs and symbols gain their meaning based on context. This attitude was grounded in the group's emergence during a period dominated by postmodernist techniques of collage and sampling, which in video art often took the form of video collages that borrowed imagery from dominant media sources in order to critique their ideological content. Auto Awac's works depict history as consisting of a series of cultural narratives that emerge through an intersection between performance, ritual, individual action and authority.