Cooper Gallery’s critically lauded five-chapter exhibition and event project The Ignorant Art School: Five Sit-ins towards Creative Emancipation enters its third iteration in Autumn 2023 with Sit-in #3 titled …But There Are New Suns; the first major exhibition in Scotland by the Turner Prize nominated artist collective The Otolith Group.
Founded in London in 2002 by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun, The Otolith Group practices modes of digital image-making, exhibition making and discourse making that seek to activate the chronopolitical potentials of differentiated futurisms.
…But There Are New Suns approaches the politics of time through its engagement with the poetics of temporal reconfiguration.
In drawing upon moments and moods specific to the aesthetics of Afro-Asian avant-gardes, as formulated by Joan Kee in The Geometries of Afro-Asia: Art Beyond Solidarity, The Otolith Group’s inhabitation of the structures provided by The Ignorant Art School aims at sustaining ‘interpretive communities’ enabled by the prospect of aesthetico-political work.
In its recitation of the epigram, written by the great science-fiction novelist Octavia Butler, the exhibition title …But There Are New Suns alludes to an imagination of scale capable of gaining traction upon the multiple alienations differentially experienced by communities living and working in and through the ‘Racial Capitalocene’. [i]
Underscored by a commitment to methods of study and objects of investigation that operate beneath, between and beyond the protocols and parameters of institutional legitimation, The Otolith Group approaches Cooper Gallery as an opportunity to assemble an interscalar vehicle that enables a tractive force upon what C.L.R. James calls ‘the future in the present.’
In approaching digital video as the occasion and the site for the study of study …But There Are New Suns focuses upon two installations: What the Owl Knows (2022) and O Horizon (2018).
Co-produced with Cooper Gallery, the UK premiere of What the Owl Knows can be characterised as a work that revels in what it does not reveal.
A work that attunes the auditor to the tone and the texture of attentiveness devoted by painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye to the demeanour and the disposition, the manner and the moods within and outwith her paintings.
A work whose refusal to satisfy the disclosures expected from what appears, on first sight, as documentary, returns the eye and the ear to the play of recursion and the work of attunement.
The installation O Horizon (2018) invites audiences to encounter scenes from the life within and outwith Visva-Bharati, the university that extends the art school founded in Santiniketan in West Bengal in 1921 by the polymath Rabindranath Tagore.
Researched, videographed and recorded over a period of five years, O Horizon alludes to the quotidianity of Tagorean ecosophy transfigured by the multiple crises of capitalogenic violence.
The studies of study evoked throughout O Horizon offer prismatic insights into the forms and shapes of a Tagorean ethos in the second decade of the 21st century.
In embracing film director Ousmane Sembène’s idea of cinema as a night school or l’ecole du soir, the events series Sit-in Curriculum #3 celebrates the sociality of moving images as the occasions for the informal study of study.
In assembling dialogues between the political aesthetics and aesthetic politics of science fictions, insurgent futurisms, chronopolitics, anti-colonial, postcolonial, decolonial and settler colonial theories, theories of anthropogenic and capitalogenic crises, and experimental musics, electronic and otherwise, the screenings, discussions, performances and reading groups that constitute the Sit-in Curriculum #3 aim at the interruption and suspension of colonial orders of knowledge production through an open invitation to all that wish to gain traction upon the convergence of multiple crises.