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OKWUI ENWEZOR

Steve McQueen, Carib’s Leap/Western Deep, 2002, Super 8 and 35 mm transferred to three-channel digital video, color, sound, 28 minutes 53 seconds; 12 minutes 6 seconds; 24 minutes 12 seconds. Carib’s Leap. From Documenta 11.

IN 1999, Okwui called me to say that he had been appointed the director of Documenta 11. It was a long phone conversation, in which we spoke about our daughters, who were each one year old at the time, and how the exhibition could change their futures.

It did.

Two weeks before Okwui passed, I was sitting in a Munich hospital at his bedside. He was weak. He began to read poetry out loud. The oral experience was as if he were eating the most delicious fruit, biting into it, the juice dripping from his chin, as he relished formulating the sound of each word. 

He ended with “Piedra de sol” (Sun Stone, 1957; translated by Muriel Rukeyser), by Octavio Paz, here excerpted and edited:

 

I want to go on, to go beyond; I cannot; 

the moment scatters itself in many things [. . .]
willow of crystal, a poplar of water, 

a pillar of fountain by the wind drawn over, 

tree that is firmly rooted and that
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