Otolith II is the new video by the Otolith Group. The point of departure for Otolith II is the archive of Anasuya Gyan-Chand, an educationalist and feminist active in the post-war milieu of trans-national activism. Gyan-Chand ’s extensive archive consists of photographic prints, negatives, contact sheets, airmail correspondence, journals and newspaper cuttings which constitute a valuable cross section through the mid 20th Century of secular trans-nationalism. We see delegations of Indian feminists meeting women ’s groups, visiting museums, hospitals, factories, laboratories, state gardens, attending conferences, summits and hearings, throughout China, Russia, Japan and Yugoslavia among other countries. At a time when the art world is engaged in re-examining the potentials and legacies of post-war feminist art practice, this archive invites us to rethink the entanglements between feminism, communism and the Non Aligned Movement. The Otolith Group ’s longstanding interest in the idea of the past potential future is focused around the poetics of moments such as this which allow them to rethink what it means to inhabit the present.


Otolith II is informed by these broad concerns. The shadow of the unrealised futures evoked in this photographic archive falls across the present. Otolith II focuses on the aftermath of the futures planned by the modernists of the mid century. It explores the utopian city of Chandigarh as a counterpoint to the unplanned futures that so many now inhabit. To navigate Le Corbusier ’s city today is to investigate the manifold ways in which everyday sociality modifies the Nehruvian faith in rationalised modernity. Structured as a movement between plan, counterplan and non-plan, between the extremes of real estate speculation and the contingencies of contrapiano, Otolith II looks at the conditions of collapsed urbanism, informal architectures and pirate modernity that inform the slum, the shanty town and the ghetto, all of which are understood as the exemplary city of the future. More specifically, it looks at the slums of Bombay as the unregulated city of the pirate future. As the predominant form of unregulated architecture, the slum is typified by multiple incongruities. It is built by the housewife who can be understood as an informal architect. The slum is a complex of improvisations that exceed survival and can be understood as a condition of becoming. These ideas have been researched by journalists such as Suketu Mehta in Maximum City and urbanists such as Mike Davis in Planet of Slums as well as documentary filmmakers such as Anand Patwardhan in Bombay Our City. Influenced by Godard ’s Alphaville and Black Audio Film Collective’s Twilight City, Otolith II is a film essay on economic fantasy and forced labour, urban fiction and dreams of living space. An artistic exploration of the poetic and affective dimensions of the slum understood as the city of the future.


co-production with KunstenFESTIVALdesArts and If I Can’t Dance / Huis & Festival aan de Werf

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Otolith Group, OtolithII  
  • Tue 15.5.2007 - Sat 26.5.2007
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