14 May 2009
With the Otolith Group: Kodwo Eshun & Anjalika Sagar and Marianne van Kerkhoven

Video recordings of the lecture

Introduction by Marijke Hoogenboom

Kodwo Eshun during the aftertalk

Marianne van Kerkhoven

The aftertalk

The everyday use of the term idealism refers to an attitude in which one acts on the basis of an unshakable belief in the possibility of a better future. In the arts an ongoing polarizing debate is taking place about the position of the artist as a recluse on the one hand and as an idealistic reformer on the other, in which one ‘practitioner’ chooses for idiosyncracy and autonomy, while the other acts as a ‘mediator’, ‘opiniator’ or activist and endeavours to express and act out a social and political commitment in his or her work. How and in which way can ‘idealism’ take shape and form in contemporary artistic practice and how ‘efficient’ is that kind of striving for real change?


Marianne Van Kerkhoven (BE) is a writer and dramaturge. In 1969, Van Kerkhoven was installed as one of the first dramaturges at the KNS (Royal Dutch city theatre). Soon after that, she founded the company Het Trojaanse Paard, which became one of the most prominent examples of Flemish/Dutch political theatre in the 1970s. Van Kerkhoven has been working as a dramaturge at Kaaitheater since its founding in 1977. In the 1980s, Kaaitheater was the artistic home of many innovative artists, including Rosas, Jan Fabre, Needcompany, Discordia, Jan Ritsema and Jan Decorte. Van Kerkhoven edited the four-lingual publication Theaterschrift and was on the editorial board of the Flemish magazine Etcetera for twenty years. More recently she worked with Josse de Pauw, Mark Vanrunxt, Hooman Sharifi and Kris Verdonck, among others. In 2002, a collection of her essays on theatre were published as “Van het kijken en van het schrijven” (On looking and writing, 2002).

Anjalika Sagar (UK) and Kodwo Eshun (UK) are founders and core members of Otolith Group (2000). Sagar and Eshun live and work in London. The Otolith Group works with media archives, histories of futurity and the legacies of non-alignment and tricontinentalism. The Group’s artistic work explores moving image, sound, text and curatorial practice and functions as a platform for discussion on contemporary artistic production. This latter aspect can be understood as part of the Group’s wider interest in the construction and consolidation of a counter-public sphere. The films and installations of Otolith Group have featured widely in international exhibitions. In 2008, the Group was recipient of the prestigious LAFVA Award. In the beginning of 2009, the group co-curated a major exhibiton on the work of Harun Farocki in London. Their first solo exhibition, curated by Emily Pethick and Anna Colin, opened in February this year at Gasworks and will open in The Showroom in June 2009.

The Otolith Group: Kodwo Eshun & Anjalike Sagar

Marianne van Kerkhoven during the aftertalk