The Otolith Group, the London-based artist collective founded in 2002 by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun, is presenting an exhibition titled Xenogenesis at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin, Ireland. The Xenogenesis Trilogy, Octavia Butler’s title for her science fiction novels, inspires the title of the exhibition, which features a cross-section of works produced by The Otolith Group between 2011 and 2018. The focus of the works directly reflects the artists’ ongoing commitment to creating what they call “a science fiction of the present”. The experimental works by The Otolith Group include post-cinematic essayist films, videos and multiple screen installations. They address contemporary social and planetary concerns, the disruptions of neo/colonialism, the impact of humans on earth and new technology’s effect on human consciousness.
To mention, the exhibition originated at the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands, and toured to Buxton Contemporary in Melbourne; Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond; Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge, Canada; the Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkove in Ljubljana, Slovenia. In an interview with STIR, the curator of the exhibition, Annie Fletcher, Director of IMMA, talks about the curatorial strategies applied to let an array of work, created over a period of seven years, draw the curiosity of the current audience. “Well, I thought terms of a large scale solo show; something a museum can do at scale. I felt that a constellation of many of their projects, no matter when they were made, were always going to be extraordinary – they have been working consistently and ambitiously for the last 20 years and each project as you can see has a significant research background and is very specific so we were very conscious of trying to understand what it might mean to read these projects together. We then invited the very talented exhibition architect Diogo Passarahino to create a scenario in which the audience could experience this complex practice in terms of an experience – so as the exhibition travelled, he adjusted the design in each space,” says Fletcher.
The Group has been an experimentalist in the discipline of documentary and film essays. As the leading voice in the field, the artist-duo under the name of The Otolith Collective has consistently aided the art of exploring a variety of film-oriented practices by programming as well as by conceptualising discursive events. The Otolith Group with these projects questions the white dominant modernist practice of artistic production. Towards this end, it expands the global art viewership. Kernel to their work is the engagement with the formal methodologies of the essay film, which serves as a fecund site to lead experimentation with spaces and times – extended by sonic and visual assemblies. The final work is an amalgamation of the performance, science fiction, postcolonial histories, experimental music, philosophies and sciences to talk about the historically situated political afterlives and futurities of the 20th and current century.