Octavia Butler’s sci-fi trilogy, Xenogeneis (1987-1989) has been the starting point and defining design factor for the Otolith Group exhibition architecture at the Van Abbemuseum, the first large scale exhibition of The Otolith Group in the Netherlands. Using time and estrangement as the main driver of the design, the visitor is presented with a scattered spatial narrative, allowing it for a fictitious sense freedom and control, where different spaces shift from factual design references, to futuristic and undefined elements.The collaboration with Anjalika Sagar and theorist Kodwo Eshun has brought to this project an intense thinking process and an emotionally charged narrative.
Bouncing from these experiences and conservations, orchestrated by the Annie Fletcher (curator of the show), the design functions as an psychological framework where visitors occasionally immerse on moments of total awareness and physical instability (Medium earth) to drifting off to a state of dizziness and trance (Anathema).This hyped and sensorial design allowed to create specific settings for each individual artwork, where through the lens of viewers they can be spatially perceived in different ways (Sovereign sisters) or seen in new display formats (Left to night).
Through a cirurgical and minimal intervention, all of the normal exhibition gimmicks such light and sounds locks have been eliminated, making the passageways between rooms and works feel like a sequential and smooth experience.Like an alien parasite, the Xenogenisis architecture has taken over the Van Abbemuseum, awaiting to alter 5 different institutional spaces. It had been smooth, tough, impenetrable, but slightly giving like the bed and table. It had felt like plastic, cool beneath her hands. “What is it?” she asked.
Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, NH.
Curated by Annie Fletcher
Artworks by The Otolith Group (Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun)
Exhibition Architecture by Diogo Passarinho Studio
Team: Diogo Passarinho and Juliana Knoblich
More information (here)