In The Year of The Quiet Sun

In the Year of the Quiet Sun

This video essay takes its name from the solar phenomenon that occurs every eleven years when the sun’s surface cools enough to allow observatories to study solar activity. From November 1964 to November 1965, the countries of the world, including many newly independent African states, issued stamps to commemorate the first scientific expedition to study the surface of the sun.

As these stamps turned their face towards the sun, they overlooked the instability on the ground: the military coups planned by soldiers against the governments of Nigeria and Ghana, the popular and murderous uprisings in Zanzibar, the crisis of sovereignty in the Congo instigated by the Force Publique, sustained by Union Miniere de haut Katanga and worsened by the intervention of the United Nations.

In this work, the astronomical time of the quiet sun converges with the political calendar of conferences that took place in cities such as Bandung, Cairo, Belgrade, Accra, Addis Ababa, Saniquelle and Casablanca throughout the 1950s and 1960s, when politicians, activists and journalists gathered to debate and plan the continental programme of Pan Africanist policy.

In the Year of the Quiet Sun proceeds through scenes that allude, often indirectly, to the making and the unmaking of polity on a continental scale. It focuses upon magnified details of postage stamps, generating a digital monumentality that pays attention to the anonymous verdict of inadvertent iconoclasm visited upon the political ceremony of Independence by an unattributable postal history.

To complement In the Year of the Quiet Sun, The Otolith Collective has curated films and videos that dramatise the contingency of anti-colonial struggles through forms of travelogue and children’s drawing and modes of clandestinity and translation.

René Vautier, Afrique 50 (1950), 17 mins
Yann le Masson and Olga Poliakoff, J’ai huit ans (1961), 9 mins
Harun Farocki, Some problems of anti-authoritarian and anti-imperialist urban warfare in the case of West Berlin or: Their Newspapers, (1968), 17 mins
Benjamin Tiven, Third Version of the Imaginary, (2012), 12 mins

The film In the Year of the Quiet Sun was co-commissioned with Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and Casco-Office for Art, Design and Theory in partnership with Artsonje Center.



Courtesy of Delfina Foundation/Tim Bowditch


Project Category
solo exhibition

Images