The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis
Xenogenesis presents a cross-section of The Otolith Group’s works from 2011 to 2018. Part fiction, part documentary, these films and installations address contemporary global issues: how humans have shaped the natural world; what “we” have inherited from colonialism; the unresolved histories of global Asian and African diasporas; and how “we” are changing in response to new technologies.
The term “xenogenesis” alludes to science-fiction novelist Octavia Estelle Butler (1947–2006) and her classic Xenogenesis Trilogy (later retitled Lilith’s Brood). While Butler does not appear directly in this exhibition, her work provides deep inspiration for The Otolith Group—especially the titular concept of “becoming alien” or “alien becoming.” Along with Butler, two other figures are key to the exhibition: avant-garde composer and pianist Julius Eastman (1940–1990) and the philosopher and social reformer Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941). Together, the works in Xenogenesis reflect The Otolith Group’s commitment to using images and sound to create “a science fiction of the present.”
ABOUT THE OTOLITH GROUP
Established in London in 2002, The Otolith Group consists of artist and theorist Kodwo Eshun (b. 1966) and artist Anjalika Sagar (b. 1968). The Otolith Group: Xenogenesis is organized by the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands and curated by Annie Fletcher, now director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The ICA is the only U.S. venue for Xenogenesis, and this presentation marks the group’s first large-scale exhibition in North America. The Richmond presentation includes O Horizon (2018), The Third Part of the Third Measure (2017), Sovereign Sisters (2014), Statecraft: An Incomplete Timeline of African Independence (2014–ongoing), In The Year of the Quiet Sun (2013), Who Does the Earth Think It Is (2014), Medium Earth (2013), and Anathema (2011).