PRINT December 2010



Thirteen scholars, critics, writers, and artists choose the year’s outstanding titles.


No great surprise about my book of the year. I had been waiting for Michael Fried’s The Moment of Caravaggio (Princeton University Press) ever since hearing him present an early version of its opening ideas in Berkeley years ago, and when the volume arrived it took me by storm. I have never understood the churlishness of so much mainstream art history when confronted with the latest episode in Fried’s lifelong research project, but no doubt there will be the usual rolling of eyes in certain quarters on discovering that chapter 3 of the new book is titled “The Invention of Absorption.” (Oh please, Professor Hegel, not dialectic again!) I remember Fried once expressing disappointment to me—rather touchingly, I thought—that there had not been more particular, picture-by-picture engagements with his arguments over the years by writers on Manet, Menzel, Courbet, and co. And I tried to explain what I thought the main difficulty was: that he had, uniquely in art history, built himself a powerful, bounded, internally coherent universe of questions, into which, I found, one entered deeply as one read and reflected, and where local disagreements—which did constantly happen—were immensely less important than the experience of having pictures opened to a whole new way of looking. How exactly that experience was assimilated subsequently, how it affected one’s own art writing, was hard for a reader to tell. There was an effect—I for one could testify to that—but it did not register, importantly, in the form of specific agreement or dissent. Rather, it altered the questions one went on to explore.

For me Fried’s books have above all helped to bring into focus the destabilization of depiction that took place when—for complex reasons Fried does not claim to explain (and none of the rest of us go much beyond generalities in face of the problem)—the “givenness” of the relation between the world in the picture and the spectator in front of it broke down. (That breakdown was, of course, one among many at the beginning of the modern age. But it was the one, Fried thinks, that most intimately, structurally, affected the process of visual representation.) “Destabilization of depiction” may sound abstract. But the strength of Fried’s writing is its ability to show facts of structure—or disturbance of structure—producing particular effects. Conditions of viewing, imaginings of access or address, kinds of empathy or loss of same—these enter into a picture’s “subject matter” and can, at moments of crisis, become the subject themselves. So The Moment of Caravaggio stands or falls, as art history mostly should, by the intensity and detail of its accounts of specific works: by its ability to extract a painting from the ordinary round of “formal analysis,” iconography, and “contextualization” and put the reader/viewer almost physically in a new kind of contact with it. This happens repeatedly in Fried’s new study. The book’s key analyses are beautiful and, pace the critics, often profoundly surprising. I found that as the book went on, they more and more offered me a way—this is regularly the case with the arc of a Fried argument—to think about questions the author himself did not quite pose, or did not pose as I might want to. Take, for example, an aspect of Caravaggio’s art that I have always found off-putting, though others exult in it: what I would call the painter’s excessive urge toward transparency and immediacy of access to the illusion he engineers—the wish, as it were, to puncture the picture plane and have the things depicted be truly (falsely) continuous with the viewer’s lived space. This is my way of stating it, and Fried would disagree, I think, with almost every one of the turns of phrase—the ways of framing my experience of the paintings—in the previous sentence. But his turns of phrase have made my own clearer to me, and have no doubt begun to worm their way into my turns. In a manner typical of the writer at his best (and maybe this is what so gets up the nose of normal art history about him), his book has robbed me of the commonsensical ground on which and from which I thought I could see—could “place”—a major artist. It made me aware of what Caravaggio’s excessiveness might have been about. And it reminded me of the sheer strangeness—the preposterousness—of European painting’s commitment to the real.

T. J. Clark is professor emeritus of modern art at the University of California, Berkeley.


What’s wrong with being an angry feminist? Or even better, an angry feminist genderqueer? It lowers the cholesterol. It clears the sinuses. It saves a fortune on antidepressants. But it’s hard to muscle rage into a weapon, hard to parcel out absurd details with calm, hard to keep it funny—like Oscar Wilde, say, or Valerie Solanas, if she had held it together. Virginie Despentes is a master. King Kong Theory (Editions Grasset & Fasquelle, 2006; Feminist Press, 2010, translated by Stéphanie Benson) is an account of an account of an account of a gang rape, which in the end embeds autobiography in théorie. Despentes was raped in 1986. She turned it into a sportif revenge fantasy in her 1994 novel Baise-Moi (Fuck Me). She found three extraordinary porn actresses and filmed the story in 2000. Rape isn’t allowed into the symbolic realm. The film was banned. To dissect this history, she published King Kong.

Despentes writes for “all those girls that don’t get a look in the universal market of the consumable chick,” as well as for men “who would like to be protective but don’t know where to start . . . men who’d like to be fucked.” She walks us through such messy topics as violence, prostitution, porn, and class with an eye to the effects of misogyny on both genders. King Kong, a hybrid not between but before male and female, grounds Despentes’s reworking of feminism, which owes its punch to an improbable crowd ranging from Simone de Beauvoir to Paris Hilton, as well as to her own experiences as a prostitute, porn reviewer, and punk rocker. Slicing through hypocrisy about sex, she incites younger women to want it all—to claim their lives without apology. Her acid narrative of masculinity as masquerade gives Joan Riviere a run for her money. Starting with the Minitel of 1980s France, she traces the effects of Internet technology on prostitutes’ working conditions. She details shifts in porn genres caused by advances in recording technologies. She suggests possibilities for miniaturized computing devices. (Steve Jobs, take note.) Why, she asks, does there exist “no object at all to slip into your pussy when you go out for a stroll that will rip up the cock of any fucker who sticks it in there”?

Despentes reminds us that feminism is not a marketing strategy but a revolution. Good to remember that it’s also more than a revisitation of the art of the ’70s.

Catherine Lord is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles.


The main question running through Elie During’s Faux raccords: La coexistence des images (Jump Cuts: The Coexistence of Images) (Actes Sud/Villa Arson) is as essential as it is inexhaustible: “How do we conceive of ‘spacetime’?” The book’s author is a young French philosopher specializing in Henri Bergson and the philosophy of science, and he tackles this question in a singular way. He begins by examining works of art in order to understand the ways in which space and time can be connected, divided, disrupted, or compressed. The fact that a philosopher is here considering art as something that produces ideas and hypotheses capable of enriching scientific and philosophical thought is reason enough to read this book—but what makes During’s work even more exciting is that his philosophy invents itself alongside art. His discussion of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass, 1915–23, allows us to understand the significance of the fourth dimension by examining the connection of art and science through a “fiction”; and Dan Graham’s Present Continuous Past(s), 1974, provides a means of investigating the conditions for an authentic experience of “remembering the present” when the present is the past passing. As one reads this book, an almost Borgesian conjunction emerges between philosophy and the detective novel; one comes across Henri Bergson and Henri Poincaré, H. G. Wells and Alain Badiou, Valie Export and Alfred Hitchcock. Elie During strives for a rigorous understanding of the ways in which images function and affect thought. His project is ambitious for both philosophy and the arts, and profoundly rewarding for anyone wishing to put it to radical use—that is, to submit the logic of interpretation to that of construction.

Tatiana Trouvé is an artist based in Paris.

Translated from French by Jeanine Herman.


In the introduction to her translation of Gustave Flaubert’s great novel Madame Bovary (Viking Penguin), Lydia Davis as good as says that her rendering is better than any of the nineteen English versions already in print. What’s more—whatever one thinks of that self-congratulatory attitude—she is almost right. Geoffrey Wall’s 1992 translation (also published by Penguin, which will keep it in print alongside Davis’s) will continue to attract new admirers, but Davis’s rendition of Flaubert’s distilled prose is spare, faithful, and utterly engrossing.

The contrast between the solid everyday world and the pliable world of Emma’s imagination comes alive in Davis’s hands: “She would wear a wide-open dressing gown that revealed, between the shawl collars of the bodice, a pleated shift with three gold buttons. . . . She had bought herself a blotter, stationery, a pen holder, and envelopes, although she had no one to write to. . . . She longed to travel or to return to her convent. She wanted both to die and to live in Paris.” Even when her two disastrous love affairs are at their most passionate and intense, this Emma is almost completely cut off from actuality.

Davis reproduces the pace of Flaubert’s language and the surgical precision and unforgiving clarity of his eye. When, finally, reality trumps her fantasies and Emma, in desperate need of money and abandoned by her lovers, friends, and associates, decides to poison herself, her mental melodrama takes place in the most concrete surroundings: “In an ecstasy of heroism that filled her almost with joy, she ran down the hillside, across the plank bridge, on down the path and the alley, and across the marketplace, and came to the front of the pharmacist’s shop.”

Of the several translations of Madame Bovary with which I am familiar, Davis’s is the most idiomatic and inviting. It draws you in, thrusts you forward into Emma’s misadventures, rises to an agonizing crescendo with her lingering, painful death, and settles softly on the gradual restoration of the banality of the everyday. Flaubert’s novel, whose characters live in delusion and whose readers are deluded into thinking that they themselves do not, has never been more inviting.

Alexander Nehamas is the Edmund N. Carpenter II class of 1943 professor in the humanities at Princeton University.


How to convey to an English-reading audience the spell cast by an untranslated piece of German literature—when even the title defies rewording? The work in question is Thomas Bernhard’s story Goethe schtirbt: “Goethe dies,” or rather “diez,” as it would have to be pseudophonetically transcribed, a transformation that not only makes a grotesquerie of the death of the author but also marks the Big Name as a subject of oral discourse, of rumor and hearsay. The story is among Bernhard’s best, a secondhand report of Goethe’s assistant’s secondhand reports about the master’s deathbed wish to bring Wittgenstein to Weimar for a discussion on “Doubting and Not-doubting” (Stifter and Schopenhauer aren’t available, because they are already dead). Thanks to the cultivated delirium added to Bernhard’s familiar style of excessive cumulation, the writer’s famous rage against the brutishness of the art and culture machine is replaced by a parody of mythmaking and fame. The eponymous book (subtitled Erzählungen [Stories] and published by Suhrkamp) features not only “Goethe schtirbt” but three other texts from the early 1980s, thereby posthumously fulfilling Bernhard’s wish to unite these pieces under one cover (whose appearance is in itself intriguing: We see the author’s owlish gaze competing in obstreperousness with his hair, which is matched by the fringes of a tielike accessory working simultaneously with and against his Austro-dandyish loden suit . . .).

My own doubts about choosing a book so tightly enmeshed with Austro-Germanic high culture and its means of authority building dissolved when I realized that the fabulous (but also seemingly context-specific) My Prizes: An Accounting, another of Bernhard’s posthumous publications, has just been translated into English (Knopf). Bernhard’s general appeal to American readers notwithstanding, why would one be interested in the circumstances in which he was awarded, say, the Anton Wildgans Prize? Although this time we’re given firsthand accounts, only committed “not-doubters” would accept them as wholly true. If gossip here again functions as institutional critique, it is precisely because of the blatant exaggerations, obtusenesses, and narcissistic add-ons that reveal the unavoidable bias of any such “accounting.” The financially tinged subtitle, which appears only in the English translation, is therefore well chosen: It highlights the homophony of “prize” and “price,” even if Bernhard’s confession that he is only in it for the money is too outspoken not to be doubted.

Brigitte Weingart lives in Berlin and teaches German literature and media/film at the University of Bonn.


Olivier Debroise’s historical novel Traidor, ¿y tú? (Traitor, and You?) is a beautifully written fictional memoir in which a bit player from the Mexican Communist scene of the 1920s becomes the central character in an obscure entanglement that ties together art history and politics with a dose of homoeroticism. The final novel by the Mexico-based writer and critic Debroise (1952–2008), Traidor, ¿y tú? was posthumously pieced together and published (it’s printing as you read this review) as an annotated unfinished draft, with an introduction by Enrique Serrano Carreto, by the Museo Tamayo, Mexico, on the occasion of “A Place Out of History,” a group exhibition in which intrigues, double agendas, and half-truths within the corridors of art history converge.

Traidor starts in early-twentieth-century Poland, where the young Stefan Dabrowski is seduced into becoming a covert agent and trained to work as a spy for several different, sometimes conflicting intelligence offices, all of which lead to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In spirit, Dabrowski, who takes on numerous identities, is a poet in love with mathematics, machines, and secret codes, but he is also a quixotic and passionate gay man who discovers his sexuality as he mingles with other agents in assigned secret tasks in Poznan, Berlin, New York, and Mexico City.

Debroise scrutinizes a well-explored chapter of Mexican political history from an unexpected perspective. He not only uses factual documents to construct the narrative but also articulates a meticulous analysis of the seemingly innocent figures who modeled for Tina Modotti’s photographs or Diego Rivera’s abstruse murals, and the messages that were encrypted in these compositions.

In “Four Essays on the Memoir,” the last chapter of this detective story–like novel, Debroise delves at length into the historical facts—should I say speculations or presumptions?—that gave birth to this fictional account as well as into the modus operandi of Moscow-led agents stationed in Mexico. At the same time, he depicts the incessant organization, restructuring, and decomposition of the Mexican Communist Party of this era.

Beyond being a great read, Debroise’s novel offers an unorthodox take on historiography and a fresh examination of art’s complicated and reflective relationship to society at large. It takes a long and focused look, and only then do the real secrets of works of art start to appear.

Mario Garcia Torres is an artist based in Mexico City.


It says a lot about Andrey Platonov’s The Foundation Pit (Vintage Classics) that the novel has been translated into English four times since the 1970s, twice by the same translator. Anyone who has read Platonov can tell you that an encounter with his writing is unlikely to end in interpretive certainty. While earlier efforts to render The Foundation Pit in English made perhaps too much sense of Platonov’s classic, the new translation by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Olga Meerson, which was first published by the visionaries at New York Review Books, preserves all the ambiguities and woodenness of Platonov’s Russian prose. Written in 1929–30, in response to the industrial projects of the First Five-Year Plan, Platonov’s production novel depicts the construction of a gigantic collective home for the working class. But the proletariat never shows up to claim its inheritance, and the construction efforts never get beyond the massive crater in the earth that is carved out as a foundation. A reverse image of the era’s vertical Prometheanism, this pit is an unresolved symbol, both a clearing for future generations and a mass grave for the present. Such ambivalence finds its affective counterpart in the ambivalence of the characters themselves, who are, overwhelmingly, bored. When, in the mid-’20s, Viktor Shklovsky toured rural Soviet villages with Platonov, who was then working as a land reclamation specialist, the famous literary critic observed that the countryside “is suffering from bed sores.” Everyone in The Foundation Pit too is waiting, in traction. This eventless temporality was an invention of Stalin, whose policy of “revolution in one country” closed the borders in the late ’20s and put the Bolshevik project on hold, turning a moment of revolutionary transition into a perpetual state of inertia. In The Foundation Pit, an old society has been razed but a new one has not yet been permitted to emerge. The hermeneutical openness of the text’s symbols reflects not so much an uncertainty about how things will end but the foreclosure of the very possibility of an end. This was the suspended temporality in which the Soviet subject would pass its years. It was the obverse condition of our own hasty modernity, as the East German playwright Heiner Müller suggested after the fall of the wall: “Stalin was the last one to apply the brakes, and Hitler was the great accelerator.”

Devin Fore is an assistant professor at Princeton University, where he teaches in the German and Slavic departments.


A naive, self-deprecatory, idealistic, and secretly cherished worldview of mine has it that there are aspects of local tradition that are untranslatable. I have often thought of the great Argentine literary tradition as an epistemic field that could not possibly cross the borders of its own cultural realm. Chief among its fantastically untranslatable objects would be the more than seventy works of César Aira, mostly novellas, distributed through small publishing houses in purposely restricted editions. Not so anymore: The Literary Conference (New Directions), translated by Katherine Silver, manages in plausible English the story’s ever multiplying plotlines and the author’s convoluted and fluid style.

The panoply of references to other aspects of the Argentine tradition may or may not translate. Borges, for example, is here on the molecular level, often creeping casually into the first-person narrative voice: “The same system that created my thoughts took charge of erasing them, turning them into sinuous white strips that reached across every level. How can there be so much amnesia in a single lifetime? Isn’t this a point in favor of the theory of reincarnation?” Julio Cortázar’s ease at seamlessly melding the fantastic and the quotidian through the use of detail is here too, but thankfully minus the late surrealist kitsch. And Juan Rodolfo Wilcock’s derailing of deadpan factuality into philosophical riddles has been made second nature.

Aira’s “inventiveness” is not to be confused with a picturesque idea of what South American literature should create. His characters and situations are simplified signs that turn “invention” into a self-announced metamode of literary inquiry: “It was on this point that our Mad Scientist most differed from the stereotype of the Mad Scientist, who would typically dig in his heels with self-destructive resolve in order to maintain the central role of his own intellect. . . . Therein lay his unparalleled originality (as far as Mad Scientists go): in recognizing that ‘another’ idea is always more efficient than ‘an’ idea, by the mere virtue of being an-other.” Aira’s literature is but a parody of inventiveness, and at its core is an amazing degree of penetrating and unrelenting critical reflexivity. Aira is a clown, yet when we laugh, we are forced to ask ourselves why.

Nicolás Guagnini is an artist and writer based in New York.


A memoir by renowned Czech writer Ivan Klíma, Moje šílené století (My Crazy Century) provides a captivating account of living through the social and political transformations that have shaken this country over the past century—a century very aptly deemed “crazy,” for it is crammed with images of two horrible dictatorships. (The Prague-based publisher Edice Pameˇ t’ brought out the first volume last year; the second volume, which spans 1967 to 1989, was released in April.) From the very beginning, Klíma poses a fundamental question: He asks, is anyone still “interested in what drove so many people to succumb to an ideology that had its roots in the thinking and social context of the turn of the twentieth century?” Many of us, most likely, will never receive an answer to the simple question, “Why did you join the communists?” It is not just the excuses from our parents or grandparents, such as “so that you could study and we’d get an apartment,” that dismay, but also the phrase “I was a real idiot and naive,” which we hear so often from our important writers and artists. If I pose a similar question at home to my grandmother, who’s still a member of the party, her silence upsets me even more. Klíma’s story gives a real reply, and, though his viewpoint is subjective, that makes this book unique.

For me, the experience of reading My Crazy Century was very visual. Events took on shades of color, and I could see which colors prevailed in the past hundred years and which were entirely absent. For the first time with a book like this, I saw history appear in lines, like a drawing. And when I reached the end, I was surprised that the image of our country had been completely transformed in my head.

Kateřina Šedá is an artist based in Brno-Líšen, Czech Republic.


Club Donny is a website, an open-ended “club,” and, most concretely, a biannual magazine that functions, according to its subtitle, as a “strictly unedited journal on the personal experience of nature in the urban environment.” Humorously taking its name from Bill Murray’s befuddled character in Jim Jarmusch’s film Broken Flowers, Club Donny uses its hybrid Web/print/social structure as a worldwide platform for reflections on the shared space between civilization and the wild. Assembled by Samira Ben Laloua (graphic designer), Frank Bruggeman (artist), and Ernst van der Hoeven (landscape architect/art historian), and published in the Netherlands by Post Editions, the journal released its first issue in 2008 and will have produced its sixth issue by year’s end.

The print publication is impressive in its simplicity and ingenuity. Photographs that have been submitted (unsolicited) through the website,, are reproduced as a stack of double-sided A3-size posters, folded to make a thirty-four-page magazine, and left unbound—allowing the reader to either flip through the resulting series of diptychs with one uninterrupted centerfold or remove individual posters and view each one in full. Every issue also includes a small selection of texts, varied in approach and relating to the club’s romantic theme. In keeping with its tagline, the editorial hand of the magazine goes by almost entirely unnoticed, effecting the documentary lightness of an early Ed Ruscha book.

Framing nature as something not outside the city’s limits but integral to its daily life, Club Donny has pictured this symbiosis in such disparate scenes as a nudist camp in Maastricht, the Netherlands; a London flower show; a Neanderthal display in Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology; an abandoned and overgrown ballroom in the former Soviet resort town of Pitsunda; and a pile of fur coats gathered in front of the New York City skyline. Club Donny’s interest in dismantling the urban/organic divide is paralleled by the fluid exchange between its print and Web formats, offering a model for such cohabitations in a moment otherwise dominated by debates of either/or.

Brian Kennon is a Los Angeles–based artist and the founder and publisher of 2nd Cannons Publications.


Poet Joan Retallack’s latest volume, Procedural Elegies/Western Civ Cont’d/ (Roof Books), a collection of seventeen works written between the 1970s and the present, showcases her long-standing relationship to the procedural. The title of the poem “N PLUS ZERO” (2008–2009), for example, suggests that she will reduce to absurdity the famous Oulipian procedure N + 7, wherein every noun in a source text would be replaced by the noun seven words down from it in a dictionary. Then we read, “N plus Zero equals A to Z in what remains of this essay, with N standing, not for ‘noun,’ but for ‘next’ and zero for a certain degree of cluelessness; i.e., the familiar quandary, what to do next?” Retallack thus introduces “methodical doubt” into the Oulipian mechanical method. Abjuring any immutable point of origin (or N), her own “procedure” instead models an alternative and more contingent way of thinking—demonstrating, as she does, that “the more complex things are, the less certain the outcome but also the more room for play of the mind, for inventing ourselves out of the mess.”

Procedural Elegies also includes one of Retallack’s most memorable and important works, 1995’s “AID/I/SAPPEARANCE,” an elegy for Stefan Fitterman, who died in 1993 from an AIDS-related illness. The basic structure is outlined in a revealing section of notes at the back of the book. The poem begins with a seven-line stanza composed partly of language taken from physicist Niels Bohr’s theories of atomic structure. Then Retallack injects a virus: She removes the letters in AIDS from the second iteration of the same stanza. Line 7, for example, goes from “7. disappear and there is no place to stand on and strangely we’re glad” to “7. pper n there no plce to tn on n trngely we’re gl.” In the successive stanzas, the virus spreads to adjoining letters, until by stanza 8 the lines stand empty and mute. What distinguishes Retallack’s approach is the complicating role she allows intuition to play in her process, from determining her source texts to establishing the rules that her procedures will follow—part of, to my mind, the ethics and poetics underpinning her commitment to the experimental.

Adam Pendleton is a New York–based artist.


Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the transcendent state of mind and the evolving consciousness of the universe lies at the core of Don DeLillo’s short novel Point Omega (Scribner). His story involves three men and two women and leaves us facing the impossibility of ever attaining this elevated, untested state. If it were not misleadingly simple, I would describe this beautiful and moving book as a story of frustrated desire.

It starts and ends with an anonymous man, perhaps in his early thirties, who has time on his hands. He spends his days in one gallery of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This gallery is filled with a huge screen on which Douglas Gordon’s film 24 Hour Psycho is projected around the clock. Well, not exactly “around the clock,” because the museum closes at the end of each day, and so the young man will never be able to see Gordon’s complete (slowed-down) version of Hitchcock’s film at a single viewing.

The principal character of the story is a scholar and a retired government planning official at the Pentagon. He has retired to seek tranquility and an intellectual perspective on life in a ramshackle house in the desert, but events around him will conspire against his search for peace. He is visited in the desert by a young filmmaker whose only work so far is a collage-documentary on Jerry Lewis, but who now hopes to film the grand old man talking about his life, a project he will never start.

The two female characters act as catalysts. We know neither their picture of the world nor what they expect from it, but they dominate the events around them. The first, the daughter of the grand old man, destroys the equilibrium of the desert household by suddenly disappearing without trace. The second is a woman whom the young man encounters in the museum and hopes to see again. She, too, disappears, nameless.

Although patterns of life may appear to hover, half-legible, in the mists around the players, there is no omega point. Life simply happens. With a sleight of hand of his subtlety and imagination, DeLillo builds an edifice and as easily dissolves it into opaque white space.

Jasia Reichardt is a writer with a special interest in art and technology.


Some details mark one’s mind at an early age, and no matter how enigmatic, they have a way of reappearing in one’s work. This is what might have happened when Kodwo Eshun saw Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Gai Savoir for the first time, at age sixteen. In that film, a sign made with a zero and three lines is the symbol of a future world but also a symbol for the return to zero. Eshun and his Otolith Group collaborator Anjalika Sagar have imported Godard’s symbol into their most recent book, along with its attendant questions: Is “more” actually “less”? Where does the process of unmaking stand on a time line, with respect to the “making” of images and data, before they are rearranged into something else—an exhibition, a book?

A Long Time Between Suns (Sternberg) is a book about cinema, but it’s also a kind of cinema itself—in the way it unfolds, the way it becomes information as opposed to a vehicle delivering information. The book is theoretically and physically built around a conversation between Eshun, Sagar, and others about the position of the Left in the world today, about decolonization and the Middle East, about cinema and politics and the essay as a form of telling. Will Holder, who is also part of the conversation, is more than just the book’s graphic designer; he activates the visuality, retracing the relevant visual material and arranging it into storyboards. The effect is an expanding exhibition that both branches out from and feeds into the Otolith Group universe. Around the discussion are featured scripts of the group’s films, texts (commissioned or preexisting), and a cleverly designed time line that wraps around everything as if in an embrace—all spiral bound beneath a yellow shell. It looks like a cache of precious, dense thoughts, or like something you’d want to save for the future.

Akram Zaatari is an artist who lives and works in Beirut.