Anjalika Sagar's key note lecture explores the inception of a new phase of research into an archive of photographs belonging to The Otolith Group's archive. Thoughtforms relating to these images appear in a number of art works and videos by The Otolith Group and have contributed to their project and practice of research since 2002.
The archival images document members of The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) in the early 1950's visiting various parts of the Soviet Republic, Vietnam, Japan and China meeting other members of sister organisations, and members of The Women's International Democratic Federation's (WIDF). The photographs show women in conferences, visiting factories, printing presses, schools, museums, hospitals, farms.
The archive belonged to Anasuya Gyan Chand, the former President and co-founder of the National Federation of Indian Women (who also happens to be Sagar’s maternal grandmother). For The Otolith Group, the images act as delegates from a future anterior where a worldmaking project of self-determination contributes to a history of the present against assumptions of decolonization. A subject formation is called for that proposes generating an 'Aesthetic Education' in the words of Gayatri Spivak and revisiting this archive in the present building on our work of forming a non-aligned aesthetic against documentarian nostalgia. In a project contrary to transmitting the historical, the biographical, the hagiographic, and the demonological, the project continues for The Otolith Group in creating a cosmogonic language that counters the entangled techno-politics of the racial capitalocene and its recursive regeneration. A shifting and kaleidoscopic derive to a certain structure of feeling, which is by nature tentative and inconclusive.
The Otolith Group was founded by artists and theorists Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun in 2002. The anatomical entity of the otolith operates as a kind of figurative black box for withholding intention and calculating discrepancy. Articulating the idea of the Otolith with the idea of the Group alludes to the histories of collective practices invented by artists that theorise and theorists that practice art within and beyond the United Kingdom.
The post-cinematic practice of Eshun and Sagar is informed by an aesthetics of the essayistic that takes the form of a science fiction of the present in which moving images, sonic speculations, performances, publications and installations explore the intertemporal crises and interscalar catastrophes that construct the Racial Capitalocene.
The Otolith Group have recently exhibited at Tate Britain, London, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Carnegie International, 57th Edition; Rubin Museum of Art, New York; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Villa Empain-Fondation Boghossian, Brussels, Sharjah Biennial 13, 11th Gwangju Biennale, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art, Vienna and Museo Serralves, Porto. The Otolith Group's solo exhibition Xenogenesis was presented at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Buxton Contemporary, Melbourne, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge in 2020 and 2021 and travelled to the Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah in 2022 and Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin in 2023.