Audrey Wollen

  • Tracey Emin, Why I Never Became a Dancer, 1995, Super 8 transferred to video, color, sound, 6 minutes 40 seconds.

    TEENAGE WASTE LAND

    IN OCTOBER 1921, T. S. Eliot was in Margate, sitting on a bench, looking at the ocean. He had been worked to the point of disintegration by his relentless day job at Lloyd’s Bank in London and, citing a “nervous breakdown,” had taken three months’ leave to recover. It was a Hail Mary effort to rescue his swiftly diminishing capacity for sanity, poetry, and marriage—a trinity of dissimilar aspirations, a scalene wish. None could be sacrificed, yet each scraped against the worn edge of the others. Margate was a seaside resort town on the southern coast, the spangled hem on the skirt of England,

  • Kaari Upson, San Bernardino, CA, 2016. Photo: Michael Benevento.

    KAARI UPSON (1970–2021)

    I DON’T KNOW if Kaari Upson believed in an afterlife—I never thought to ask—but I know she believed in doubled selves, twinned spaces, and the cosmic undersides they might promise, the profusion of near, almost realities. I know that for Kaari every house had its dream equivalent, a swimming reflection. Kaari loved tract houses, their audacious, abundant banality; I would go so far as to say that she operated under a tract-house theory of the universe. Our earthly realm might be a single house in a long line of houses, rows of identical building plans, identical rooms filled with nothing but