The Otolith Group, In the Year of the Quiet Sun (2013)

Telling Time, Rencontres de Bamako 10th edition, exhibition catalogue, November 2015

The Otolith Group, In the Year of the Quiet Sun, 2013 (film still). (c) The Otolith Group

Since its founding in 2002, The Otolith Group have consistently combined newly filmed and archival imagery in order to reimagine the futuristic potential of sociopolitical events.  We can see this method at work in Inthe Year of the Quiet Sun (2013) which takes its name from a solar phenomena wherein the surface of the sun cools to a degree conducive to scientific investigation. The first such scientific expedition of 1964 to 1965, was marked by the issue of postage stamps across the world. Occurring in the midst of struggles for the total liberation of the continent—led by figures such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau  —many newly independent African states asserted their position by releasing stamps to celebrate this scientific project.  

Within the pictorial surface of the stamp resides entire chapters of history. As a mark of remembrance and a communicative tool, a stamp can accrue a value far beyond the sum of its material parts. Revolutions are collapsed into its millimetres; the power of the conference is rendered in RGB colour and is transferred from physical mass to symbolic might.

Charting the political sequence of events between 1957 to 1966 at the height of the Pan-African Movement, In the Year of the Quiet Sun magnifies episodes from their rendering on the two dimensional surface of the stamps. Oscillating between the pop aesthetic of the New York based ‘Ghana Philatelic Agency’ and tinted archival newsreel footage of meetings, The Otolith Group’s video offers a telescopic journey into the eclipsed potential of past events. The sonic and visual narrative of the work unfolds as the new governments of Africa stand, poised yet pulled between the ideological and military powers of East and West. For the duration of In the Year of the Quiet Sun, political wills align, like the cyclical journey of the stars, to allow a glimpse of a united continent of Africa.


The Otolith Group

Anjalika Sagar Born in1968 in London – Lives in London, 

Kodwo Eshun Born in 1966 in London ­­– Lives in London