The Otolith Group and Eric Baudelaire

The Otolith Group and Eric Baudelaire

Bergen Kunsthall

The Otolith Group, In the Year of the Quiet Sun (still), 2013. Film. Courtesy the artists.

January 11, 2014

The Otolith Group
In the Year of the Quiet Sun

17 January–9 March 2014

Eric Baudelaire
The Secession Sessions
17 January–16 February 2014

Opening: 17 January, 8pm

Bergen Kunsthall
Rasmus Meyers allé 5
5015 Bergen

T +47 55 55 93 10
bergen [​at​]

Bergen Kunsthall opens the spring season with In the Year of the Quiet Sun, the first major exhibition by The Otolith Group in the Nordic region—and The Secession Sessions, a project by Eric Baudelaire with Maxim Gvinjia.

The Otolith Group
In The Year Of The Quiet Sun
Curated by Martin Clark and Steinar Sekkingstad

The Otolith Group’s first exhibition in Norway, In the Year of the Quiet Sun configures moments from the grand project of mid-20th century Pan-Africanism, envisaged as the total liberation of the African continent from Europe’s empires, through the media of animation, video, interior décor, display-system, reading room and publication.

The works created for In the Year of the Quiet Sun operate as peculiar anomalies that seek to summon forces of indexicality and iconicity from the aspirations, alibis and abuses of sovereignty that emerge in the fields of postal politics, imperial infrastructure and magazine diplomacy.

In the installation Statecraft (2014), the short century of decolonization is envisioned as a political calendar assembled from the medium of the postage stamp. These masscult artifacts, issued to commemorate the independence of African nation-states, from Liberia in 1947 to South Sudan in 2011, are integrated into an elaborate display system that reveals the convergence of Pan-Africanist Pop with Social Realist portraiture. Statecraft approaches the postage stamp less as a witness to history in the making than as a form of evil media that elevates the sovereignty of dictators and revolutionaries alike.

The essay film In the Year of the Quiet Sun (2013) takes its name from the decrease in solar surface temperature that occurs every eleven years. From November 1964 to November 1965, the nation states of the world issued postage stamps to commemorate the first scientific expedition to study the sun. As the stamps turned their face towards the sky, they overlooked the unstable land of Africa’s newly independent states.

If the founding of the Universal Postal Union in Bern in 1874 can be understood as the instituting of imperial infrastructure, then Rene de Saint-Marceaux’s 1907 monument to the UPU stands as the first attempt to visualise global communication. Conceived by The Otolith Group and animated by ScanLab, Sovereign Sisters (2014) mobilises Saint Marceaux’s monument into a digital hymn to the automatism of planetary infrastructure.

The installation One Out of Many Afrophilias (2014) summons the energies of the controversial Transition magazine, founded in 1961 in Kampala, Uganda, by poet and editor Rajat Neogy. One Out of Many Afrophilias conjures Transition‘s influential Afropolitanism into a fictional skyline that combines interior décor with display system and reading room.

In its distanced forms of abstracted décor and allusive display, its essayistic engagement with video and its eldritch deployment of animation, the works assembled in In the Year of the Quiet Sun reveal the designs that Pan-Africanism exerted and continues to exert upon its subjects; in doing so, it hints at the magic wielded by newly born states upon citizens, exiles, refugees and diaspora.

The Otolith Group was founded in 2002 by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun. The Otolith Group are based in London.

Statecraft (2014), Sovereign Sisters (2014) and One Out of Many Afrophilias (2014) were co-commissioned and co-developed in collaboration with Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen and Casco–Office for Art, Design and Theory in partnership with Artsonje Center.

In the Year of the Quiet Sun (2013) was co-commissioned with Bergen Kunsthall, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and Casco-Office for Art, Design and Theory in partnership with Artsonje Center.

In the Year of the Quiet Sun will be presented at Casco-Office for Art, Design and Theory in late autumn 2014.

Artist talk: The Otolith Group
January 17, 6:30pm
Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun in conversation with Martin Clark and Steinar Sekkingstad

Publication: WORLD 3
In the Year of the Quiet Sun is completed by the publication of WORLD 3, an artist publication by The Otolith Group that assembles a conversation between the philatelic design of independent African states, letters from the diaspora of the digital auction and quotations from Pan-Africanist poetry, fiction, journalism, theory and history. WORLD 3 will be published in March 2014.

Eric Baudelaire
The Secession Sessions

“Abkhazia is something of a paradox: a country that exists, in the physical sense of the word (a territory with borders, a government, a flag and a language), yet it has no legal existence because for almost twenty years it was not recognized by any other nation state. And so Abkhazia exists without existing, caught in a liminal space, a space in between realities. Which is why my letter to Max was something of a message in a bottle thrown at sea.” 
–Eric Baudelaire

The Secession Sessions consists of a two-part exhibition and a seminar. For the duration of the show, the exhibition space NO.5 at Bergen Kunsthall is transformed into the Anembassy of Abkhazia, open to the public daily and, during the last week of the show, staffed by former foreign minister and temporary Ambassador of the Republic of Abkhazia to Norway: Maxim Gvinjia. In the same space, for the duration of the exhibition, a major new feature length film by Eric Baudelaire, Lost Letters to Max, will be screened. From 14 to 15 of February, the seminar The Bergen Sessions will take place at Bergen Kunsthall; complete programme information on the seminar will be announced on

This exhibition is a co-production of Bergen Kunsthall; Bétonsalon – Center of art and research; Argos, Center for Art and Media and UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA). In partnership with Kadist Art Foundation. Lost Letters to Max has received support from the Image/Movement grant from Centre national des arts plastiques.


The Otolith Group and Eric Baudelaire at Bergen Kunsthall
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Bergen Kunsthall
January 11, 2014

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