Otolith I, Video, 22:16 min., Color, Sound, 2003 ©The Otolith Collective
The Otolith Group
The Otolith Group is an artist-led organization founded in 2002 by Anjalika Sagar (b. 1968) and Kodwo Eshun (b. 1966) that integrates film, video, artists’ writing, workshops, exhibitions, publications and public programs. The Group’s research-based projects combine narrative, archival material, and documentary footage. Centered on close readings of the image in contemporary society, their work explores the legacies and potentialities of the document, the essay film, and the archive, as well as speculative futures and science fictions. They have organized numerous workshops, discussions, and exhibitions, including the touring exhibition The Ghosts of Songs: A Retrospective of The Black Audio Film Collective 1982-1998, at FACT Liverpool, UK, Harun Farocki. 22 Films: 1968-2009 at Tate Modern, UK, and the film program Protest, which toured venues throughout the United Kingdom and was conceived as part of the Essentials: The Secret Masterpieces of Cinema, commissioned by the Independent Cinema Office. The Otolith Group were nominated for the Turner Prize in 2010. Their exhibition on Jean Genet is on view at The Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, UK, from July 16 to October 2, 2011.
The Otolith Trilogy
The MIT List Visual Arts Center is pleased to present the Otolith Trilogy, an interconnected series of films made between 2002 and 2009 that relate scenarios of a speculative future, projected from events in our recent past. Combining fictional narration with archival and documentary footage, the artists create a set of plausible predictive outcomes for the future, from life in the city of tomorrow, to the 22nd Century, when the earth is no longer hospitable to life. The three films Otolith I, Otolith II, and Otolith III show the possible effects of our past and present actions on various aspects of human experience and knowledge, including biology, space travel, urbanism, architecture, economics, media, and culture.
Video works will be on view in the Bakalar Gallery.
Otolith I is set in the 22nd Century, when the human race is no longer able to survive on Earth and is obliged to live in the microgravity conditions of the International Space Station. Dr. Usha Adebaran Sagar, the future descendent of Otolith Group member Anjalika Sagar, is an exo-anthropologist researching life on an earth that she can experience only through media archives. Otolith I imagines a mutant future that looks to the past to find the commonality between the post-war non-alignment movement in South Asia and the USSR, and the 2003 protests against the invasion of Iraq. Otolith I began in November 2002 as a collaboration with artist Richard Couzins. It was completed in 2003 with the support of The Arts Catalyst and The Mir Consortium, which made it possible for the artists to film in a microgravity environment.
Screening Times: 12:10PM, 2:30PM, 4:50PM
Otolith II is set in the near future and mixes fiction, archival material, and documentary footage filmed in Mumbai and Chandigarh. The film explores the affective pressure exerted upon inhabitants residing within contrasting and competing versions of the city of tomorrow. Otolith II investigates the politics of futurity in which predictive models of the masterplan, the corporate scenario, and real estate speculation converge to extract labor, convert attention, and capture potential for profit. Otolith II was commissioned in 2006 by the Kunsten Festival Des Arts and ARGOS Centre for Art and Media in Brussels, Belgium, and Casco Projects in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Screening Times: 12:40PM, 3:00PM, 5:25PM
Otolith III takes The Alien, the unrealized screenplay of the legendary Bengali director Satyajit Ray, as its point of departure. Written in 1967, The Alien would have been the first science fiction film to be set in contemporary India. Otolith III returns to 1967 to propose an alternative trajectory in which the fictional protagonists of The Alien attempt to seize the means of production in order to create the conditions for their existence as images. Filmed in London, Otolith III is an experiment in temporal and geographical displacement that The Otolith Group calls a premake, a remake of a film before the original. Otolith III was completed in 2009.
Screening Times: 1:30PM, 3:50PM
Members of The Otolith Group will participate in a conversation with art historian and critic TJ Demos, on the current conditions of politically engaged filmmaking and documentary representation, on Friday, October 21, 7PM Bartos Theatre. The program is organized by Scott Berzofsky with support from the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) and the Council for the Arts at MIT (CAMIT).
Otolith Group: The Otolith Trilogy is organized by João Ribas, Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.
Support for the Otolith Group: The Otolith Trilogy has been provided by the Council for the Arts at MIT and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.