Artists' Film: The Otolith Group: O Horizon

The Otolith Group, O Horizon, 2018. Film still. Courtesy the artists
The Otolith Group, O Horizon, 2018. Film still. Courtesy the artists
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O Horizon (2018) emerges from a long-standing research interest in Rabindranath Tagore and his founding of Visva-Bharati, a school in Santiniketan, West Bengal, India, which similarly to the Bauhaus was meant to be a living laboratory and an experiment in art, life, and craft.

The title of the film refers to the surface layer of soil, changed in the area around Santiniketan as the result of Tagore’s introduction of new flora in development of the campus. In studying this trajectory, the film extends The Otolith Group’s ongoing consideration of the Anthropocene, a premise that denotes that the current geological age is one wherein human activity spurs the primary changes on climate and the environment. With O Horizon, The Otolith Group also proposes that Tagore’s project maps onto the notion of terraforming—a term originating in science fiction and now more widely used—whereby a party reshapes the atmosphere of a place for their own needs.

O Horizon reflects upon modernist theories of dance and song developed by Tagore and the experimental practices of mural, sculpture, painting, and drawing developed by India’s great modernist artists affiliated with Santiniketan: K.G. Subramanyan, Benode Behari Mukherjee, Nandalal Bose and Ramkinkar Baij. The film draws together visual arts, dance, song, music, and recital to assemble a structure of feeling of the Tagorean imagination in the 21st Century.

Commissioned by bauhaus imaginista.

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The Otolith Group was founded in London in 2002 by artists and theorists Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun. The term ‘Otolith’ is named after the calcium carbonate micro crystals located within the middle ear that maintains human capacities of verticality and balance under the terrestrial condition of planetary gravity. During their longstanding collaboration, Sagar and Eshun have drawn from a wide range of resources and materials. Their work is research-based and spans the moving image, audio, performance, installation and curation, incorporating filmmaking and 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 complexity of the environmental conditions of life we all face. The Otolith Group has exhibited widely internationally and in 2010 was nominated for the Turner Prize.

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