Eindhoven

The Otolith Group, Anathema, 2011, HD video, color, sound, 37 minutes.

The Otolith Group, Anathema, 2011, HD video, color, sound, 37 minutes.

The Otolith Group

Van Abbemuseum

The watchful eyes of the science-fiction writer Octavia Butler and the composer Julius Eastman looked over the entrance area for the Otolith Group’s exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum. With the larger-than-life images of the show’s two patron saints nearly covering entire walls, it would have been easy to miss the flat glass vitrine on a pedestal containing ten otoliths (tiny calcareous bones found in the inner ear) that had each been taken from a whiting (a cod-like fish). Although the members of the group, Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar, expressly shied away from billing their exhibition as a survey or a retrospective, their inclusion of the collective’s namesake (a loan from Rotterdam’s Natural History Museum) invited reflections on what holds their multifaceted, shape-shifting work together. The otolith’s location in the inner ear may suggest an emphasis on critical listening (especially

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