The Otolith Group: Communists Like Us Screening and Conversation
Asia Art Archive in America
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
A screening of The Otolith Group‘s Communists Like Us (2006–10, B&W & Sound SD Video, 23’05”), followed by discussion with the artists moderated by Beth Citron, Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, at the Rubin Museum of Art.
In the film, images from archives of photographic documentation of encounters between politicians and activists in India with their counterparts in Japan, Mao’s China, and other Asian countries from the mid 1950s to the early ’60s are overlaid with transcribed dialogue from Jean Luc Godard’ s 1967 film La Chinoise, creating a conversation between historical archives, photography, cinema, and art.
During the post-screening discussion, the artists reflect on the nature of their research-led film and video-making projects and introduce their new film, O Horizon, part of the exhibition “A Lost Future,” at the Rubin Museum.
The Otolith Group is an award-winning collaboration founded by the artists and theorists Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun in 2002. Their work is located in the production of moving image works, audioworks, performances and installations and is characterized by an engagement with research which began with the cultural and political legacies and potentialities of Non Aligned movements, New Media, Black Study, Afrofuturism, Indofuturism and thinking speculatively with science fictions of the present, expanding the notion of the essay film against the traditions of documentary form. Their methodologies also formally incorporate post lens-based essayistic aesthetics that explore the temporal anomalies, anthropic inversions and synthetic alienation of the posthuman, the inhuman, the non-human and the anti human. The artistic focus on the essayistic and the decolonial has always gone together with an engagement with the history of futures and the futures of histories. Expanding on the work of The Otolith Group is the public platform The Otolith Collective. The Otolith Collective has approached curation as an artistic practice of building intergenerational and cross-cultural platforms. These platforms have critically engaged the work of Chris Marker, Harun Farocki, Anand Patwardhan, Etel Adnan, Black Audio Film Collective, Sue Clayton, Mani Kaul, Peter Watkins and Chimurenga in the United Kingdom, United States, Europe, and Lebanon.
The practice of The Otolith Collective includes curating, programming, artists’ writing, workshops, publication, and teaching, together developing close readings of image and sound in contemporary society. The Otolith Group and Collective have been presented by biennials, museums, foundations, public galleries, community spaces, art schools, universities, cinemas, and informal spaces across the world. Most recently their work has been presented at the 13th Forum Expanded, Berlinale, Berlin; Savvy Contemporary, Berlin, Khiasma, Paris; The Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven; the 13th Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; and Haus Der Kulturen de Welt, Berlin. The Otolith Group was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2010 and commissioned to create a new work for Documenta 13 in 2012.
Beth Citron is the Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, at the Rubin Museum of Art. Her exhibitions for the Rubin Museum have included “Chitra Ganesh” (2018), “Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: Try to Altar Everything” (2016), “Francesco Clemente: Inspired by India” (2014), and the three-part exhibition series “Modernist Art from India” (2011–13). She completed a Ph.D. in the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, and has taught in the Art History Department at New York University, from which she also earned a B.A. in Fine Arts.
Image caption: The Otolith Group, Communists Like Us (still), 2006–10. Courtesy of the artist.