The Otolith Group

This conversation between Anjalika Sagar, Kodwo Eshun, and Christine Eyene is part of the Murder Machine project at Ormston House taking its cue from thoughts and writings by Irish linguist and activist Pádraig Pearse, notably his pamphlet The Murder Machine (1916), to reconsider issues around the English language in the colonisation process in Ireland and to draw parallels with African literature.

One Out of Many Afrophilias (2014) by The Otolith Group is a principle feature of the Murder Machine project at Ormston House. The installation consists of a bespoke display system housing the first fifty issues of Transition within an environment that alludes to Transition’s advertising imagery of consumer society in the cities of Kampala, Marakere, Accra, Lagos throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

The installation summons the disputatious energies of Transition magazine, one of the most influential English language literary journals of the 1960s and 1970s. Founded and edited in 1961 from his home in Kampala, Uganda, by the poet Rajat Neogy, Transition launched the careers of public intellectuals such as the poet Christopher Okigbo, political theorist Ali A. Mazrui and novelist Paul Theroux. Essays such as Mazrui’s controversial 1966 polemic Nkrumah: The Leninist Czar ignited sustained debates over the present and the future of the one-party state within and beyond the continent. That same year it emerged, equally controversially, that the magazine was receiving financial support from the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA’s covert funding organisation.

Curated by Christine Eyene, in collaboration with Ormston House, Murder Machine also includes works by South African photographer George Hallett focusing on African literature, a book display, and events by Irish artists Ceara Conway, Linda O’Keeffe and Rusangano Family.

Murder Machine is presented at Ormston House in partnership with EVA International and Making Histories Visible as part the Federation of arts organisations and institutions responding to the curatorial concept of Ireland’s Biennial 2016: Still (the) Barbarians curated by Koyo Kouoh. The conversation event is kindly supported by Limerick Arts Office.

About the Otolith Group:

The Otolith Group (Anjalika Sagar, London 1968, and Kodwo Eshun, London 1966) explores the legacies and potentials of speculative futures and science-fictions. Recent solo exhibitions include In the Year of the Quiet Sun, Kunsthall Bergen, Casco, Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht and Delfina Foundation, London, and Novaya Zemlya, Museu de Serralves, Porto. Recent group exhibitions include The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?), Gwangju Biennale 2016, South Korea; Not New Now, Marrakech Biennale 6, Morocco; GLOBALE: Infosphere, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany; Telling Time, 10th African Biennale of Photography, Bamako; The Freedom Principle, Experiments in Art and Music1965 to Now, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. In 2010, The Otolith Group was nominated for The Turner Prize.

About Christine Eyene:

Christine Eyene is an art historian, critic and curator. She is Guild Research Fellow in Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire where she collaborates to Making Histories Visible, an interdisciplinary visual art research project led by Professor Lubaina Himid MBE. She is also a doctoral student at Birkbeck, University of London, with Professor Annie E. Coombes and is researching the work of South African photographer George Hallett in relation to African literature and the notion of image/matter.

Admission is free and all are welcome.



Wednesday 11 May, 6.30pm

Image: installation view of One out of Many Aphrophilias (2014) by The Otolith Group at Ormston House. Photograph by Miriam O'Connor.

This event is part of the Murder Machine project.

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