“Reason . . . always homogenizes and reduces, represses and unifies phenomena or actuality into what can be perceived and so controlled,” observes Abhor, the “part robot,” “part black” protagonist of Kathy Acker’s 1988 novel Empire of the Senseless. “The subjects, us, are now stable and socializable.” Along with her co-narrator and partner Thivai, Abhor navigates an alternate-reality Paris where Algerians have staged an anticolonial revolt. Here she reflects on how patriarchal violence begins with the assignment of identities. “Literature,” she argues, “is that which denounces and slashes apart the repressing machine at the level of the signified.” That is, art resists “reason” by ripping open, and ripping apart, representation itself.
In her recent solo exhibition, Natascha Sadr Haghighian tested this hypothesis with works that forced a relation between the viewer and the figures
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