Pieces and Masterpieces

Jakob Kolding, self, portraits, 2017

I have completely lost the ability to think or speak coherently about anything at all.

Stepping back.

1891. Excitement is growing in Vienna over poems published by a writer named Loris. A new figure on the scene, Loris is quickly revealed to be the pen-name of one Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Only 17 years old, and unable to get work published while still a student, he has been writing under an assumed name. He becomes the talk of the town. Young, handsome—a boy genius. If Hugo von Hofmannsthal had not existed, Thomas Mann would have had to invent him, John Banville would later write in an introduction to his work.

1902. Hofmannsthal, now age 28, writes A Letter (Ein Brief) which is published in the Berlin literary magazine Der Tag. As is implied by the title, the story takes the form of a letter, one written in the year 1603 by a character named Lord Chandos to the real-life philosopher Francis Bacon, in which he apologises for his complete abandonment of literary activity.

First I gradually lost the ability, when discussing relatively elevated or general topics, to utter words normally used by everyone with unhesitant fluency … I found myself unable to produce an opinion … Even in simple, informal conversation, all the opinions which are ordinarily offered casually and with the sureness of a sleepwalker became so fraught with difficulties that I had to stop participating in these conversations at all … the abstract words which the tongue must enlist … disintegrated in my mouth like rotten mushrooms.

He longs for a time in which he experienced the kind of deep and true inner form of whose existence one can have no suspicion … poetry and truth all at once, a play of eternal forces, a thing as magnificent as music, or algebra … I lived at that time in a kind of continuous inebriation and saw all of existence as one great unity … I was in the midst of it, I never noticed anything false. A state of being now lost to him as gradually everything came to pieces, the pieces broke into more pieces, and nothing could be encompassed by one idea. Isolated words swam about me; they turned into eyes that stared at me and into which I had to stare back, dizzying whirlpools which spun around and around and led into the void.

An overwhelming feeling of language being inadequate, an irrecoverable loss of natural order, has opened up an abyss—a lack of certainty so fundamental it can only be experienced as a complete breakdown.

I will have to show you what is inside me—a freak, a foible, a mental illness, if you like.

In the years following 1902, Hofmannsthal came to the same conclusion as his fictional letter writer Lord Chandos. A complete abandonment of literary activity. He turned his attention towards the music that Lord Chandos envied for its deep and true inner form, and began writing librettos for Richard Strauss. Let down by language, he embraced the idea of the opera as Gesamtkunstwerk, in search of an authentic means of expression.

A Letter remains a perfectly written piece about not being able to write. A fall from grace, from an Eden in which things had a shared reference and inherent meaning—a place where things made sense. An epitaph to fin de siècle Vienna. A world about to disintegrate in real violence.

It would be tempting to end the story here, with the writer who gave up on words and the end of the world as he knew it.

Yet after the end comes something … something, that is almost nothing. A trickle of words with only the vaguest resemblance of form. You could call it a novel, although it is devoid of the form a novel would normally take. It later gets the name the New Novel. There is no plot, no names, no place, no sense of development. It is—similar to Lord Chandos’ feeling of a breakdown—literally, in pieces.

It is a small book called Tropisms. It is the first novel by Nathalie Sarraute, consisting of a series of short texts. Calling them stories would suggest too much. Tiny, seemingly detached, pieces of almost nothing, that come across as if they are excerpts of other novels where they would be part of a narrative, part of characters, part of a frame inside which they would be situated. As it is they are floating, they seem bashful, discreet, yet full of immediacy and emotions. The most fitting description may be to call them movements.

Hofmannsthal stopped writing because words were not sufficient, because the disappearance of an inherent truth left him in a void that to him felt literally meaningless. Nathalie Sarraute’s writing happens exactly because words are not sufficient. Probing with insufficient words to see if there is something there. The book is published in 1939, and is hardly noticed, as the world ends again.

1948. Sarraute’s second novel Portrait of a Man Unknown (Portrait d’un inconnu) is published. This novel does have a plot, or rather a narrative frame for the kind of movements encountered in Tropisms. The narrative frame is the narrator. He is a man who, for no apparent reason, is obsessed with a father and a daughter that live together in his building. He seems to be always near them, feeling them and, indeed, narrating them. In short, he is the omnipotent narrator. The traditional framework of a novel is, again, absent. The characters and places are nameless. Almost nothing happens on the outside. Sarraute builds on examinations of inner life developed by writers such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Marcel Proust, but she rejects the constructs of character and environment found in their work, the elements placing the novels in a recognisable reality. Sarraute attempts a realism of the micro psychological.

1969. Writing in The New York Review of Books on the occasion of the translation of all of Sarraute’s novels into English, Hannah Arendt would sum up this approach: [Sarraute] wrote … against the assumptions of the classical novel of the nineteenth century, where author and reader move in a common world of well-known entities and where easily identifiable characters can be understood through the qualities and possessions bestowed upon them …

Sarraute has cracked open the “smooth and hard” surface of these traditional characters … in order to discover the endless vibrations of moods and sentiments which, though hardly perceptible in the macrocosm of the outward world, are like the tremors of a never-ending series of earthquakes in the microcosm of the self.

Lord Chandos’ dreams of existence as one great unity are long gone. Writing about something painfully banal, when seen from the outside, becomes an immense struggle, like a fight between father and daughter over the price of a massage treatment for her bad knee […] it seemed to them that their outlines were breaking up, stretching in every direction, their carapaces and arbors seemed to be cracking on every side, they were naked, without protection, they were slipping, clasped to each other, they were going down as into the bottom of a well … down where they were going now, things seemed to wobble and sway as in an undersea landscape, at once distinct and unreal, like objects in a nightmare, or else they became swollen, took on strange proportions … six thousand francs … a great flabby mass was weighing on her, crushing her … she tried clumsily to disengage herself a bit, she heard her own voice, a funny, too neutral-sounding voice … “I believe it’s an inclusive price.”

Family life. However it is the narrating that takes centre stage in Portrait of a Man Unknown. The narrator is the framework—narrating the inner lives of father and daughter—as in many novels, but gradually he becomes subject and object of the book. Who is this man? The omnipotent he—and of course it is a he—who knows everything. The parents of the narrator are worried. Seriously worried about their son’s claim to know what is going on inside the lives of strangers. Wouldn’t you be? Susan Sontag is worried too. In a 1963 essay on Sarraute, included in Against Interpretation, she writes:

Vanity Fair and Buddenbrooks when I reread them recently, however marvelous they still seemed, almost made me wince. I could not stand the omnipotent author showing me that’s how life is, making me compassionate and tearful; with his obstreperous irony, his confidential air of perfectly knowing his characters and leading me, the reader, to feel I knew them too. I no longer trust novels which fully satisfy my passion to understand.

The parents decide that something must be done. Not only worried about their son’s know-it-all attitude, they are worried about the things that he experiences. Like Lord Chandos they see these dizzying whirlpools as signs of a mental illness, and they bring him to see a therapist.

It doesn’t take [the therapist] long to get the upper hand of all the so-called different “visions” that are outside the realm of “artistic research,” as well as entirely useless … “Don’t take it to heart, many a literary character, who has since become famous, was, from our viewpoint, a neurotic.” … “The trouble with people like you … is that they lie to themselves.” The narrator, the writer, and the novel in therapy, and the therapy works! The narrator gets straightened out. He is relieved. Already I am beginning, little by little, to be “in contact with reality” … more clear and defined, distinct outlines.

Feeling much better he visits a museum. It is an enjoyable afternoon spent among masterpieces … the pictures let me share the fertile, grave serenity of their peaceful smile, the exquisite grace of their detachment. Peaceful and detached, until he comes across a work different from the others. Portrait of a Man Unknown painted by an artist unknown. The lines of the face … fragmentary, uncertain outlines that the hesitant fingers of a blind man might come upon haltingly …

Uh-oh we’re in trouble / Something’s come along and it’s burst our bubble. Back in to the whirlpools.

Nathalie Sarraute was a major figure in the development of the New Novel in France. The traditional novel falling into pieces, alienated and nothing like that great unity Hofmannsthal sought. The omnipotent narrator is humiliated, brought into therapy by his parents. Might there be a way out of the alienation for the novel? Clearly at this stage the undisputed grand story is out of the question, but something?

Sarraute was probing to see if there might be a piece of reality underneath the words. Hannah Arendt writes: [Sarraute] has spoken … of “the “psychological movements” which constitute, in fact the principal element of my research”; she has also mentioned, though with more restraint, her hope to break through to some domain of the authentically real, not Goethe’s “the beautiful, the good, the true,” but just some tiny undiluted, undistorted factual matter. Perhaps it will turn out to be “nothing, or almost nothing.”

Nothing or almost nothing. That is, possibly, something, which is where Sontag differed with Sarraute: By invoking the notion of reality at all,

Sarraute has, in fact, narrowed and compromised her argument when she need not have done so. The metaphor of the work of art as a representation of reality should be retired for a while; it has done good service throughout the history of the analysis of works of art … it has the unfortunate result of giving further life to the tedious alternatives of subjectivity versus objectivity, the original versus what is preconceived and ready-made. There is no reason why the novelist cannot make new arrangements and transformations of what everybody has seen …

For all the basic soundness of Sarraute’s critique of the old-fashioned novel, she still has the novelist chasing after “truth” and “reality.”

Welcome to the Pleasure Dome
(An Alternative to Reality) (Altered Real / Real Altered / The Alternative)
How to Remake the World
How to Retake the World
The Escape Act

Enter Georges Perec, not one to shy away from dizzying whirlpools leading into the void. Think for instance of his 1969 novel La Disparation. Not only is the title in English translation A Void, it is also an actual dizzying experience reading it. The book is a meta-linguistic detective and adventure novel written entirely without the use of the letter “e” with a plot built around the disappearance of, and search for, an Anton Vowl (vowel, get it?). Spare a thought for the translator of such a book, and imagine the complications of the missing “e,” beginning already with the title La Disparation. The Disappearance, as the dictionary suggests, won’t work. A leap into language. Goodbye to truth-ful words, goodbye to any lingering notion of the original work. An Yves Klein-like leap into the linguistic void.

Perec had a passion for playfully exposing the binary traps of Sontag’s tedious alternatives between original and copy, real and fake. Already in the years before his 1965 debut novel Things (Les Choses), he had been working on another novel, whose manuscript was rejected and for many years thought lost, before being recovered by Perec’s translator and biographer David Bellos. It was eventually published posthumously in 2012 as Portrait Of A Man Known As Il Condottiere (Le Condottière).

The main protagonist is Gaspard Winckler, a name that would turn up again in two of Perec’s later published works, W or the Memory of Childhood (W ou le souvenir d’enfance) and Life A User’s Manual (La vie mode d’emploi). In W or the Memory of Childhood there are even two Gaspard Wincklers. The Gaspard Winckler we meet in Portrait Of A Man Known As Il Condottiere is—fittingly for someone with a name multiplied across several books—a forger. Winckler, however, dreams of creating a “true” masterpiece to stand next to the original artworks he has previously copied; to cap an untarnished career by carrying off what no forger before him had dared to attempt: to create an authentic masterwork of the past … Note the of the past. Winckler does not want to make a contemporary work in his own name. He wants to create a painting recognised as one by his chosen artist, Antonello da Messina. He does not want to create a perfect copy equal to Antonello’s originals, but an original and authentic Antonello.

There are strong elements of Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 story Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote (Pierre Menard, author del Quijote) in this, a story about the writer Pierre Menard who wants to write Cervantes’ Don Quixote as his own.

Pierre Menard did not want to compose another Quixote, which surely is easy enough—he wanted to compose the Quixote. Nor, surely, need one be obliged to note that his goal was never a mechanical transcription of the original; he had no intention of copying it. His admirable ambition was to produce a number of pages which coincided—word for word and line for line—with those of Miguel de Cervantes… Initially, Menard’s method was to be relatively simple: Learn Spanish, return to Catholicism, fight against the Moor or Turk, forget about the history of Europe from 1602 to 1918—be Miguel de Cervantes. Pierre Menard weighed that course… but he discarded it as too easy… Being somehow, Cervantes, and arriving thereby at the Quixote—that looked to Menard less challenging (and therefore less interesting) than continuing to be Pierre Menard and coming to the Quixote through the experiences of Pierre Menard.

Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote is an extraordinary, and very funny, investigation of the relationship between writing and reading. Is a book read by identifying with (the truth of) the writer or the reader and where does it leave the original if every reading is a new book? When the unnamed narrator of the story claims Pierre Menard’s Quixote a stunning original piece of writing, the success lies in Menard claiming Quixote his own. A new original that is. Borges, in practically slapstick mode, quotes from both books, resulting in repeating exactly the same quotes, but coming to wildly different conclusions as to the meaning of the texts. The Cervantes text and the Menard text are verbally identical, but the second is almost infinitely richer …. It’s a revelation to compare the “Don Quixote” of Pierre Menard with that of Miguel de Cervantes.

Borges writes Menard as a Duchamp as a writer, making the act of re-writing an existing text, an act of re-definition and a re-appropriation and thus, an act of subversion of the masterpiece, the master story and the master. Killing off the original thus does not mean that there is nothing, and no reason to go on as Hofmannsthal experienced it, on the contrary it means that there is every reason to go on. As Sontag noted, the omnipotent narrator shuts down the story, leaving no room for the reader and she therefore cannot possibly trust a novel that fully satisfies her drive to understand. Only an end to the “whole” text, and the master, will leave room for disputes and room for challenges of dominant stories. Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote is a radical call to arms against authority and power, and—though written many years before the fact—a call to arms against the post-digital restrictions on copyright and ownership laws.

Returning to Perec’s Winckler, he, at first, seems to be on a similar errand as Borges’ Menard, in wanting to create an original Antonello da Messina painting. However, while Menard wants to write Cervantes’ Quixote as his own, re-appropriating it and opening it to serial readings and meanings, Winckler wants to reverse the process, creating an undisputed masterpiece. Obsessed with Antonello’s Portrait Of A Man Known As Il Condottiere, he wants to create a portrait of a similar confidence, a similar truth … a way of portraying command itself. There’s nothing ambiguous or hesitant in the eyes or the gestures, only a constant assertion of poise and strength.

The truth that he is looking for is two-fold. An artwork as an expression of something essential beyond itself, and it is in the man portrayed and the clearly defined identity he represents. A wish for a society in which identities were not up for negotiation. Condottiere was a title for a military leader, a mercenary in charge of a private army … he has no need to define himself…

No ambiguity, no two sides to it… an independent but obedient instrument who can settle problems for other people, problems that are not and cannot be his own … Any portrait, any man is always the achievement of some kind of certainty. The Condottiere is beyond that: he has no need to reach towards anything, he’s not trying to understand the world, he does not need to understand it. He is not trying to master the world, he already does. Certainty, and many hours in therapy that would be saved.

Winckler wants to reverse “the fall” of Hofmannsthal in creating an image of unquestioned authority, and the exact opposite of the painting of

Portrait of a Man Unknown found in Sarraute’s book of the same title. One is a Condottiere, the other is an unknown that so unsettled Sarraute’s narrator after his initially successful conversion therapy to normality and stability. Winckler wants security, he wants the therapy to work. As opposed to Hofmannsthal’s Lord Chandos though, Winckler, from the outset, experiences the world as in pieces. He is after all a forger. A man without qualities, he longs for authenticity. The masterpiece. Portrait Of A Man Known As Il Condottiere is a novel about a man attempting the impossible, to re-gain innocence once lost. Piecing the pieces back together into one piece. A fool’s errand. The name of Antonello da Messina’s painting, Portrait Of A Man Known As Il Condottiere, does not come to us from Antonello. There are no records of a title or who the portrayed man is. The Il Condottiere has been attributed later, and is, as a matter of fact, not a fact, but an interpretation.

Looking at his own sketches covering the walls of the workshop Winckler sees only failures. It made it seem that Antonello da Messina had wanted, in total disregard of the most obvious law of history and four hundred years before time, to express in their incomplete fullness all the anguished contradictions of consciousness … it did not reveal a painter who had summoned up in palpable form and structure above and beyond his model the eternal, rational stability of a renaissance: it was the double, triple, quadruple game of a fake artist pastiching his own pastiche … Instead of producing a Renaissance masterpiece he has produced a fragmented body of work that comes across as if it was made by a Renaissance artist with a post-structuralist mind. Winckler must accept that instead of the only ever portrait I ever wanted to paint—an image of serenity, strength, poise and command—there was a clown in a mask, a buffoon in his prime, a tense, nervous, lost, defeated, yes, utterly defeated man.

Karl Marx famously noted that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. To Hofmannsthal the fragmentation, the disconnect and the void was nothing but a loss, pure tragedy. Writing about a forger attempting to move in the opposite direction, and failing spectacularly, Perec rewrites the same story as farce.

After I had finished Portrait Of A Man Known As Il Condottiere (the book, not the painting) I started reading a monograph on Antonello da Messina. It includes a text by Renzo Villa called In Search of Antonello. In it I read about forgeries and copies. Uncertain, changing and wrong attributions, documents on forever lost works, and documents on lost documents. Varying names for the same person or inversely the same name for what was likely different persons and the today unknown identities of the sitters in the portraits. There are missing signatures, mistaken scholars, lying scholars, scholars so keen on their thesis that they chose to ignore what was right in front of them. I repeatedly had to remind myself, that I was no longer reading Perec nor had I, by accident, picked up a book by Umberto Eco.

Antonello himself is believed to have gotten his training at the studio of the Neapolitan painter Colantonio, a painter who, lacking great originality, tended to imitate others’ work almost to the point of forgery … On one occasion [Colantonio] asked a merchant to lend him a portrait of Charles of Burgundy … He made a copy so alike that one could not distinguish between them, returning his copy to the merchant who did not notice the substitution until Colantonio unveiled the beautiful deception.

Perec wrote Portrait Of A Man Known As Il Condottiere based on art historical sources and known cases of forgeries. When Winckler explains how he makes his forgeries as I could lift all the details from different works, that is a known method of forgers, it is equally a nod to how Perec made his own book. His portrait of a forger is made by lifting details from portraits of forgers.

Villa in his text also notes that, due to a lack of sources, uncertified stories about Antonello have flourished. A burning question is how he came to be so influenced by a Netherlandish style and Villa tells how Antonello, based on the writings of Giorgio Vasari, was believed to have traveled to Bruges and learnt the style and the technique of oil painting directly from Jan van Eyck. However van Eyck died when Antonello was still a child and, as Villa concludes we do not know what sources Vasari used for this entertaining story, which is entirely without foundation, but circulated for centuries as evidence of the relationship between Netherlandish art and Antonello’s production. From another anecdote on the rise of oil painting in Italy, we learn that Giovanni Bellini dressed up as a nobleman in order to commission a portrait from Antonello, observing how he dipped his brush into a bottle of linseed oil, and then went home to copy his technique. Did Antonello ever travel to the Netherlands? Probably not. Did Bellini really make such a sneaky, though in fairness quite fantastic, move? I guess we’ll never know, but it is nevertheless a great story. Reading In Search of Antonello, there is one question left. How the hell are we ever going to find Antonello!?

Art and forgeries would continue to play a major role throughout Perec’s writings, so it is fitting that it is right at the centre of both his very first writings, and, in what was to be his last published work, A Gallery Portrait (Un cabinet d’amateur) from 1979.

A Gallery Portrait is the story of a painting and a collection. It is composed of endless lists and detailed descriptions of the art works in the collection, taken from newspaper articles, art historical texts, collection inventories, auction lists and incredibly elaborate and convincing provenances. All to describe a collection of masterpieces—Rubens, Poussin, Holbein, Hals, Vermeer, Klimt, Delacroix, Degas, Cézanne, Bonnard and Renoir among them—and, in particular, the placement of the key painting A Gallery Portrait within it. It is a story built almost entirely out of smoke and mirrors. In it, Herman Raffke, a self-made millionaire, commissions the young artist Heinrich Kürz to make a portrait of him with his art collection. Kürz paints Raffke sitting in his private gallery, the walls covered with his favourite works. The painting is then shown in the room it depicts with all the paintings that are in the painting hanging in the same positions on the walls. On closer inspection it turns out that the artist has put his painting in the painting, so that the art collector, sitting in his gallery, has in his line of sight, on the far wall, the painting which represents himself looking at his collection of paintings, then all of the paintings reproduced again without any loss of precision through the first, second and third reflections. The viewer looks at the painting to see the room and its paintings replicated again and again, until they are the size of only a minute brushstroke. To top it all off, Kürz not only reproduced the paintings, but made slight variations in each increasingly smaller copy … a boxing champion, still in fine fettle in the first copy, was receiving a terrible upper-cut in the second and was laying flat out in the third. A Gallery Portrait seems at times to be a story created solely to amuse Perec himself.

In what surely is no coincidence, there is an identical story about Colantonio—Antonello da Messina’s teacher and skilled copyist—in Renzo Villa’s In Search of Antonello, Villa writes; the whole painting [by van Eyck] he thus counterfeited, in a way that this could not be discerned from the archetype were it not for the fact that he transformed the original oak into a chestnut tree. Between this and the story of Bellini disguising himself to steal the technique of Antonello, in a storyline straight out of Tintin, there were seemingly plenty of Perec-like tricksters around in the Renaissance, and the great history of Renaissance order increasingly looks like a fabrication, or forgery, itself.

After the death of Raffke his whole collection is sold on auction. Perec describes the inventory and the provenance of the individual works in great detail in long lists of (fictive) paintings by well-known artists. It seems almost like a writing exercise in how to describe an image in words. Then, with only a couple of pages left, Perec suddenly stops in his tracks. He now reveals a complete twist to the plot. Raffke had, at a certain point, realised that he was being conned by his advisors—all esteemed art historians and curators—and that his collection was made up almost entirely of forgeries. He carefully started plotting his revenge on the established art world, and working in tandem with his nephew, a skilled forger, he built up an even more impressive collection of works by the world’s most famous artists. All were forgeries but Raffke had everyone believe in their authenticity with convincing proofs of provenance, as shown in the detailed lists that had up to this part formed the book. After Raffke’s death the collection is auctioned to the most esteemed collectors and established institutions, upon which they are exposed to be fakes.

The keystone to this patient plot, every step of which had been carefully planned, was the creation of the “Gallery Portrait” in which, by depicting the paintings in his collection as copies, pastiches and re-workings, they would quite naturally look like copies, pastiches and re-workings of genuine paintings.

Talk about hiding in plain sight! Perec, clearly enjoying himself, hammers home the point. The careful inspections that were carried out soon showed that most of the paintings from the Raffke Collection were indeed fakes, as fake as most of the details in this fictional tale, invented solely for the pleasure—and the thrill—of deception.

Ha Ha! is what I imagine Perec said out loud writing that last sentence. Yes, everything that he so carefully constructed in his story, with all its airs of authenticity, was indeed fake. A lie. And we’d be fools to think otherwise, because that, as a matter of fact, is what literature, is. Fiction. Lies. Perec, though, is no joker just for the sake of it, he is much more than an annoying uncle at a family celebration who always has to show off his magic tricks. He definitely is showing off his skills and tricks in this story, but also, significantly, his methods as a writer.

His writings are extremely diverse, but his methods are constant. He repeatedly sets up strictly defined conditions, self-imposed frames which he has to work with. This can be a mathematical structure the book must follow, a hindrance he must work with (like not using the letter “e”) or, as is the case in A Gallery Portrait, literally a frame. A picture frame, that contains every part of the story. He investigates the possibilities of each framework, in incredibly rich, imaginative and playful ways, and often through a returning set of structural features such as the stories inside stories and the obsessive list-makings, both central to this text.

As in virtually all his writings there is a constant back and forth between rules, structures and categorisations on the one hand and rebellion, play and multiplicities on the other. He builds intricate structures, making us believe in his stories—because we want to believe, before he tears it all down in front of our eyes. He confronts us with our expectations and with our thinking. The back and forth between authority and rebellion, restrictions and actions, is but one crucial reason for Perec’s continued importance. A Gallery Portrait is, just as Borges Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, a statement to the power of copying in undermining authority and the masterpiece, in reappropriating and redefining the dominant story. It is a thoroughly odd story, and a fitting ending to his life’s work. It is a radical political gesture presented as games and fun.

In Portrait Of A Man Known As Il Condottiere Winckler fails in his effort to reach certainty, but in the process he also formulates the way out of the hole that he is trapped in—out of the loss that he and Lord Chandos felt—he formulates what was to become Perec’s method, … You sit in front of your canvas or your board for hours and hours. There’s nothing there except the set of laws that constrain you and that you are not allowed to break … I had to give an account of something that already existed, I had to create a new language but I was not free: the grammar and the syntax were given, but the words had no meaning; I did not have the right to use them. That was what I had to invent, a new vocabulary, a new set of signs … it had to be identifiable at first glance, but nonetheless it had to be different …

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