The first major solo exhibition of The Otolith Group in Australia, Xenogenesis brings together a cross-section of influential artworks from 2013 to 2018 at Buxton Contemporary from Friday 6 March 2020.
Curated by Annie Fletcher, former Chief Curator at the Van Abbemuseum and recently appointed Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, this large-scale exhibition will present five major works from 2013-2018 and include: In the Year of the Quiet Sun (2013); Medium Earth (2013); Who Does the Earth Think it Is? (2014); Sovereign Sisters (2014); and O Horizon (2018).
The works selected are linked by The Otolith Group’s concern to formulate a science fiction of the present using historical and contemporary images and sounds. By treating the technologies of images, sounds, voices and colours as narrative vehicles for transtemporal travel, the artists seek to reimagine the contemporary global crises that ‘we’ have inherited from colonialism, renarrate the ways in which humans have shaped the planet, and reconfigure the ways that ‘we’ are changing in response to new technologies.
The term Xenogenesis alludes to the Xenogenesis trilogy – the collective name for Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988) and Imago (1989), the novels written by Octavia Estelle Butler (1947–2006), the great African American feminist science fiction author.
Her writing unleashed a legacy of feminist thinking and new imagination from the late 1980s that influenced Donna Harroway, Sadie Plant and the Xeno Feminists and the Black Quantum Futurists, all of whom are key influences for the Otolith Group’s own work. Her powerful fictions provide an ongoing inspiration for the artists’ preoccupations with futurity, speculation, alienation, raciality, mutation, evolution and the planetary.
Alongside Octavia Butler stands the critical figure, the legendary Bengal philosopher and social reformer Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), who informs the pivotal work in this exhibition O Horizon.
The Otolith Group was founded in 2002 and consists of Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar who live and work in London. Both have been leading experimentalists in the fields of documentary and filmic essays, known both for their own work and for their support and exploration of other filmic practices by programming and organising discursive events, much of which is done under the name the Otolith Collective.
Their ongoing research-based collaboration draws from a wide range of resources and materials that supports intergenerational dialogue with other artists and thinkers. Through these projects, they challenge a white modernist mode of artistic production and expands the global view of art.
They picture a society in which screens have become part of the natural world, communication is global, culture is political, human identity is crucial but fluid and history has not ended.
The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis
Buxton Contemporary, Corner Southbank Boulevard and Dodds Street, Southbank
Exhibition: 6 March – 21 June 2020
For more information, visit: www.buxtoncontemporary.com for details.
Image: The Otolith Group, O Horizon, 2018 (still), original format 4K video, colour, sound, duration 90 min, courtesy of The Otolith Group and LUX, London, © the artists