PRINT December 2014


Mira Schor

In Paul Chan’s 2006 documentary Untitled Video on Lynne Stewart and Her Conviction, the Law, and Poetry, former civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart reads from poems of special significance to her, by John Ashbery and William Blake, among others. Whenever she does so, the screen cuts from footage of her speaking to flat fields of color—black, purple, blue, red, orange. I’ve never forgotten the powerfully moving effect of these twinned aesthetic anomalies in an artwork with a political subject: a lawyer who uses poetry in court, a video whose documentary progress is shattered and enlightened by abstraction. This confidence in aesthetics matched with a long-term commitment to activist politics at the level of community organizing also characterizes Chan’s writings, collected in Paul Chan Selected Writings 2000–2014 (Schaulager, Laurenz Foundation, and Badlands Unlimited). Many

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