Session D:

The Otolith Group: On the Black Universe 09/11/2016: 11/09/2001

December 5-6, ArtCenter/DOWNTOWN, 12PM-6PM

1035 N. Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida

Public Lecture: Saturday, December 3, 2PM

Location: ArtCenter/South Florida (924 Lincoln Road)

ArtCenter/South Florida (924, Lincoln Road, Miami Beach)

In the ominous present of the neofascist future accelerated by the victory of Donald Trump’s Republican Party over Hilary Clinton’s Democratic Party, contemporary critical culture confronts the demand to move from mourning into militancy. Despite or precisely because Clinton’s victory in the popular vote did not translate into success in the electoral college, the urgency of the moment demands fortitude for the fight to take back America. In the time between now and Inauguration Day on 20 January 2017, there is no time left for the anguish, despair and pain experienced by millions of voters and millions more around the world on 9 November 2016. Mourning has its place but it has no place in the exigencies of the present. Activism, it is argued by Rosi Braidotti and many others, is the means by which mourning becomes militancy. Activism is the name for the range of tactics and strategies capable of reformatting mourning as a practice of militancy that moves against the virile whiteness deployed by the meme magic of the Trumpist regime.

What if the means by which mourning becomes militancy requires the inhabitation of the missing terms between mourning and militancy: Fatalism. Pessimism. Impotence. Shame. Despair. Dread. Fatalism. Accommodation. Adjustment. Adaptation. Appeasement. Acquiescence. Complicity. Collaboration.  The workshop On the Black Universe aims to focus these political feelings around a single text entitled On the Black Universe in the Human foundations of Color. Written by the French philosopher Francois Laruelle written in 1991 and translated into English the same year, this obscure text was not written for this moment. Nor is it written in the register of political journalism, political activism, political theory or indigenous knowledge. On the contrary, it moves between theoretical philosophy, prose poetry and cosmic mysticism. The apprehensions of the present are performed by the obscure role that is played by the color black in the black universe of Laruelle’s text. These apprehensions, these feelings, this structure of experience, are to be understood as a condition of thought and its limit that could take the forms of a pessimism of joy and an optimism of horror.

Participating in the workshop entails a willingness to commit to the text as the first stage in the articulation of a consciousness of the inadmissible structure of the inadmissible experience of inadmissible feelings. A consciousness located in the ontological disorientation of the black universe of whiteness ascendant. A consciousness of the inadmissible fear of feeling at home with feelings of fear. Of the fear of intimacy with the intimacy of virile whiteness. The fear of complicity with the complicity of power. The fear of accommodating to accommodating to normalization. The fear of adapting to adaptation.

The only requirement of the On the Black Universe workshop is the willingness to engage with the text On the Black Universe in the Human foundations of Color.


The Otolith Group was founded in 2002 and consists of Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun who live and work in London. During their longstanding collaboration The Group have drawn from a wide range of resources and materials. They explore the moving image, the archive, the sonic and the aural within the gallery context. The work is research based and in particular has focused on the essay film as a form that seeks to look at conditions, events and histories in their most expanded form. The Group have exhibited, installed and screened their works nationally and internationally, they are commissioned to develop and exhibit their art works, their research, installations, and publications by a wide range of museums, public and private galleries, biennials, foundations and other bodies.