When choosing a title for his first solo exhibition outside his native Germany, held in the summer of 2006 at New York’s Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Hamburg-based artist Dirk Stewen selected a literary fragment that evoked both the melancholy psychogeography of his host city and the refined poetic instincts of his conceptual program. The phrase he settled on, “Even in its blackness, the sky did not rest,” appears near the end of City of Glass, the first book in Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy. In the tale, the protagonist, an accidental gumshoe named Daniel Quinn, finds himself in an Upper East Side alley, stuck on a misbegotten stakeout of a man who, unbeknownst to him, is already dead. A bewildered private eye, Quinn has nothing to do but contemplate the sliver of sky visible between the looming buildings:

[As] the days passed he began to take pleasure in the world overhead. He saw that, above

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