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M.Z. / Z.M.

Intake, writeable
distributed to all rooms, recreating its own history in narrow passages:
a spiro smile addressing the air, like something forgotten.[1]

Gult gruset[2]
The words are Swedish, but in this text message, their meanings are displaced into a foreign vocabulary: my father’s. He continued to text me even after his cognitive abilities had deteriorated to the point where he was unable to achieve clarity. It was writing, but not really: the product of restless, groping motions. Silent questions asked by fingers. Later, when he has stopped writing, I realise that the symbols had formed patterns in the retina. The letters are no longer components of the light matter of the text; they are thermograms, engravings carved out of darkness. Who should I explain it to.

The space of silence is the space of yumewarigusa sculpture, and I think that’s where we are now. Writing has yet to be invented; its entrance will be preceded by a drawn-out negotiation between gills, gazelles, and all the other greenery. The living time of the voice. The time of kindly spells. The words dedicate a space to their secret violence. Objects are transformed from one state of being to another, from needle to (eye), from mercy to fog, from old secrets to new. The time of overwritings as a time of secrets.

Shadow trails: meeting of facade and wall, unlocking the door, which is painted with some kind of trompe l’œil technique, with its banners and swelling covers already guiding one’s gaze into and through the space. The collapsed interior, the colours, and the small glass scalpel. I can only speak for myself, but I think it’s the same space that you read about in the standard work on lost salamanders and their particular habits.[5]This is where they come to drink/sleep/extemporise over themselves when they’re not too busy being lost.

The last room, the room with the suns and the semi-clear fluids, the room of laws and surplus. The room of broken ballistics. It reminds me of an archive, which is also a gathering place for things you’ve been wanting to get rid of. It’s an attic space, but with very specific contents. Everything has been gathered and sorted according to a certain classification system. At some point, the system was no longer taught, and it became obsolete. But it didn’t release its hold. It enfolded the objects. It entered them and changed them from within.

Nej nej nej ne     [7]
(No no no n   )
Disappearing points. Things. Echoes fading away as they pass through the corridor behind us. (The launch site is abandoned, left alone in the eye.) The degree of indeterminacy. (You never answer as though I had asked.) The degree of repetition: at once the interruptions of negation and a paradoxical affirmation, like a hammer speaking. No, nothing stops us‒protects us (from these blows). One no, several nos, loud and firm, with your weight on the front of your foot (everything erased). The nail in the ground offers us a yes (if we’re exaggerating). But a yes is not the way to conquer a no. Suggestion: “ne”, followed by a space: unfin‒delayed‒postponed‒lit from within; caesura, a torn remnant, or perhaps: annulment, a no. To determination (yes) and indetermination (no), we add determinately negated indetermination (anti-no). At this point, negation turns in on itself, and re-establishes the yes that it started out as an assault on. This way, the affirmative and the negative are accomplices to the disappearing that will eventually veil each negation in oblivion (the perfect crime). Don’t forget: spaces blind even the most hardened of imperatives. Blankness is the space of an indeterminacy of agency.

          a. Blind baby has its father’s mother’s eyes:


permutating: that is, already moving along another axis than the suggested – heading towards an aesthetic of obliqueness, where[8] lines of meaning intersect


The ultimate method of empirio-criticism: drinking ritual milk, burning the answer out.[9]

– unfamiliar initials, which are repeated two days later, in reverse order:

That same autumn, I was put in contact with somebody who claimed to be M.T., the person who, ten years earlier, had attacked Silvio Berlusconi in Milan by hurling a plaster model of the city’s cathedral into the prime minister’s face. Our correspondence follows the usual template for any polite exchange, but with an important exception: M.T. doesn’t want to acknowledge himself in any way at all, and this is reflected in how he writes (or rather doesn’t) about himself. It’s not a matter of shyness or discretion; rather, it’s an enjoyable acknowledgment of one’s own insignificance. Through his grandiosely petty actions, he embodies a megalomaniacal ambition for smallness. He writes about the solar storm, and the softly blushing shell, and this exit seems to take forever, is carried out in an almost conceptual fashion. Feet precisely placed on the ledge between an illegible signature and Stanley Brouwn’s name.[12] (It is not the intrusion of non-existence, but the symbolic articulation of loss that produces your enjoyment: aphanisis ≠ :X) The exaggeration at Piazza del Duomo was followed, as expected, by frantic attempts to play the whole thing down. “I am nobody. I am nobody,” shouted an excited M.T., before he was overpowered by the bleeding tycoon’s bodyguards.[13] Within 24 hours of the attack, the prices for miniature cathedrals had doubled from €6 to €12 along the tourist tracks, and soon, they were sold out.

The supplement of the reversed angle of a smile. The edges of a circle that never closes, wrought with inner turmoil over its unwelcome shadow. The needle that responds to the pressure: outlines drawn with a thin burning needle at the centre of the eye, as though carved into it. The parenthetical marks the beginning and the end of an embrace, and this places it beside the sentence to some extent. While it is integrated into it, this does not in any significant way alter its meaning. The gentleness with which it carries the burden of insignificance. It could signal a meaning’s exit from itself; sufficiently the same, sufficiently other. This liminal potential appeals to me. I’m also fascinated by the ways parentheses are used to express anti-Semitic sentiments online. Names of people with Jewish backgrounds (or concepts that these circles associate with Jewishness) are placed within three parentheses (((they))). As though the contents were threatening to overflow the edges and bleed back onto the writing. These typographical walls, which are referred to as “echoes”, first began to be used to encircle these names around 2015. Since then, the hateful code has been made partially redundant, however. People began to add triple parentheses to their own names as a display of solidarity. This caused the anti-Semites to add another distinct innovation to their own names – inverted triple parentheses, placing everything but )))themselves((( in an undefined, sealed-off mass of text. The starting point had become almost Alephic in its solitary apartness by now.[17] The problem of the Aleph, existing beyond the scope of the totality of the points it encircles, that is: chronically incomplete, fat and sizzling, like melted fat on the forehead.

The lonely eye of the Aleph is also everything it can’t see.

)))a binding glance)))
for oneself
for all that can be seen
for the eye and for all it can’t see
for the face‒cathedral (orthopaedics with inverted purposes: reinstating the unfulfilled in the plastic, a full restoration carried out by the location’s newly purchased‒melting commonality)

What should be done, i.e.,
what should have been done?
(How does one remember?) Otherwise: an atmosphere of disappearing, a global cheerfulness before the long, forgotten night of transgressions.

Ornamentations and cancellations, deforming alterations and mutilations, jealous restorations. A narrow furrow through which (inaudibly) emanation: i.e., the inclusion of a concrete aspect (more or less close to itself) in something that is passed through. (After each rinse, the procedure is repeated until the desired result is achieved.) The Example of the Malaga Province. The process of transfer, and that which is lost – but is it not the gap between intention and realisation that constitutes the essential allure of the non-retinal, which Duchamp referred to as the missing link?[19] The moment when something is lost, i.e., the admission of that particular moment? When I think of my own process, the Andalusian borehole appears.[20] If a distance needs measuring out in this context, we might as well call it a rescue distance. In the end, everything comes down to distance: if you’re too far away, your eyes will shut again, and if you get too close, it will all disperse like mist.[21] The concept of rescue distance has a floating ambiguity, perhaps it is nowhere used with more conviction than in Samanta Schweblin’s novel Fever Dream.[22] In the novel, the term is used to refer to the protagonist Amanda’s obsessive ambition to stay close enough to her daughter to rescue her at every conceivable moment of her life. What it is she needs rescuing from remains unsaid for a long time, but that’s also part of the point: the dangers are undetermined and indeterminate.

A swimming pool. A house. Another child. Everything has been contaminated with the undetermined. Thus, the distance must be constantly recalibrated whenever new dangers appear. If the surroundings are deemed safe, the distance can be significant; when a threat makes itself known, a few inches can be much too far away. Once again, you have reason to recognise yourself in this odd relationship between distance and closeness. This also extends beyond the magical connection of motherhood. The distance between people is never as great as when they’re packed into a cramped underground train; the proximity of others is never as intrusive as it is in a large gallery that has just two solitary visitors.
          In the novel, the image of a thread is conjured up, a thread strained to the breaking point – its fragile, tense materiality testifying to the threatened bond between mother and daughter – but which may also have broader applications. At first sight, this stretched thread seems to rearrange the logic of Duchamp’s 3 Standard Stoppages, in which three threads, each one meter long, fell freely from a height of one meter before being fixed to canvases with varnish, as three random geometric shapes. The novel has a geometry written into it, one that becomes legible in the triangular relationship between the mother, the child, and the undefined threat. However, the distance between these entities remains an open question. The invisible thread is drawn like the outline of an absence: it defines the boundaries of the lost object, while also serving as its replacement. The thread is stretched within and without, an interpretation of an elusive object. Duchamp’s point is made clearer by the fact that these random configurations have been attached to rulers whose sawn-out contours match the shapes of the threads, ultimately making the random outcome the very way in which the surface is measured. The reward that looms over both cases is a deeply contradictory object: a distance that produces a measure that is incommensurable with the very idea of measuring (a measure of the immeasurable, which is simply another way of saying “art”).

Waking up each morning is a worst nightmare shared by basophobes and pnigophobes[24] alike: death by suffocation, in air that would have been rendered unbreathable by the rapid fall.

Shine. Shining. The shining image. The shine of the image, horizonlessly shining, i.e., banished to the outskirts of the image (where even words fall). Shining order to fall back on (nice), and make even shinier with your toxic shine. Entropic order, i.e., “shining” order; the last phase of the deshining process.

A person, Klara Lidén, then, emerges from a subway station to walk along the early morning streets of lower Manhattan, past the New York Stock Exchange and Chase Manhattan Plaza, where Dubuffet’s monumental tree sculpture flashes by in all its chalky, white unshininess.[25] Her walk does not go unnoticed, and we soon realise why: it is her constant falling, the way she keeps tripping on the pavement. A FreshDirect delivery man approaches to help, but thinks better of it when the unreality of the situation hits him. She continues walking, unabashed, continues falling. Each time, she simply resumes walking as though nothing had happened. She falls, gets up, and continues walking, in a single, continuous movement. She walks, and she falls. Falls back into walking. Her actions weave in and out of one another.

          The permanence of the groundless would have been hailed as a victory of contingency over the fixed and closed.[26] Here, the experience of groundlessness results in a series of ataxic acts, the outcome of which is a violent reestablishment of the connection to the foundation. What is it that triggers this stumbling and falling? The spontaneous association to slapstick is dead in the water. When, say, Buster Keaton trips and falls, the physical antics are typically followed by a glimpse over the shoulder, or some other choreographed move intended to determine the cause of the fall (whether such a cause has been presented to us or not). It is the idea of stumbling that is being staged, and stumbling by definition entails something that is stumbled over. This localising gesture is missing from Lidén’s performative act: she falls, seemingly without cause, but she is still clearly stumbling over something. Things that aren’t there, but which may have been or will be there. Things that demand to be stumbled over. To put it in more trite terms, we could say that you’re not aware of your foundation until you lose contact with it. The rule of foundations is[27] that once they make themselves known, by giving way, you fall. On the whole, it is hard to think of a more elementary experience than that of falling. Walking can also be understood as a process of falling from one leg to the other.[28] In this precise regard, the thing that the unfortunate flaneur is falling from is already a fall in a way. If you wanted to take it a step further, you could say that the fall actively constitutes the thing you’re falling from. You fall, but it is the fall itself that opens the dimension you’re falling from. Doesn’t this situation correspond to the final phase of the analytical process (la passe), the moment when something is lost that didn’t exist prior to the loss? If so, who is it that’s falling? Are you the victim? Or has the fall itself fallen victim? ︎

Falling fall
Fall of the f



[1] Cf. Feuerbach’s view of air as the element of words, and Luce Irigaray’s ontology of breath, see Luce Irigaray, The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger, trans. Mary Beth Mader (London: Athlone, 2000).
[2] Text message to author, 3 July 2017.
[3] Text message to author, 14 August 2017.
[4] Text message to author, 14 August 2017.
[5] Johanne Lamoureux, “Avant-garde: a historiography of a critical concept,” in A Companion to Contemporary Art, ed. Amelia Jones (Malden: Blackwell, 2006), 191–211.
[6] Text message to author, 25 August 2017.
[7] Text message to author, 27 August 2017.
[8] Or maybe when. Reconfiguring the field of the political imagination, from spatial representations (island, city) to temporal conceptions (act, event), corresponds to a state of urgency, one whose modality is necessity. When the symptoms can no longer be resolved within existing coordinates, a structural deadlock ensues. From this, a placeless desire is born, one that realises itself through a radical discontinuity. Compare this to how art transitions from concrete form to formal context, from object to event. Here, the urgency comes part and parcel with the field, so to speak (the fetishizing of the contemporary, its constituent restlessness). See, for example, Boris Groys, On the New(London: Verso, 2014).
[9] This is intended as a kind of activation of Lenin’s trusted method of using milk as invisible ink, which he used when he was imprisoned at the close of the 19th century. See Stefan T. Possony, Lenin: The Compulsive Revolutionary (London: Routledge, 2017), 214.
[10] Text message to author, 2 October 2017.
[11] Text message to author, 4 October 2017.
[12] Cf. Alex Danchev, 100 Artists’ Manifestos (London: Penguin Books, 2011), 77.
[13] Luigi Cozzi, "Milano, ferì Berlusconi con una statuetta del Duomo: Tartaglia libero, ’non è pericoloso’," La Repubblica, 27 April 2016 , https://milano.repubblica.it/cronaca/2016/04/27/news/berlusconi_tartaglia-138600708.
[14] Text message to author, 8 October 2017.
[15] Text message to author, 16 October 2017.
[16] Text message to author, 16 October 2017.
[17] See Jorge Luis Borges, The Aleph, trans. Andrew Hurley (New York: Penguin Books, 2004).
[18] Text message to author, 19 October 2017.
[19] Arturo Schwarz, The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp (New York: H. N. Abrams, 1969), 18—19.
[20] This is a reference to the tragic accident in Spain in January 2019, when a small child fell into a deep borehole, and the rescue operation that followed.
[21] Artist Ghislaine Leung has expressed the sentiment that we can never get far enough away to achieve critical distance. (Ghislaine Leung, "Cancellations," interview by Noah Barker, Mousse, June–September 2018, 55.) Naturally, the paradox here is that this kind of statement, a realisation of one’s lack of ability to achieve critical distance, is actually evidence of that same critical distance. Leung emphasises that she is more interested in “what it is to be too close to see something,” and I feel a certain affinity with this. Within the framework of capitalist realism, where the ahistorical telos of history draws closer, until you’re fully inside it, it’s easy to lose sight. It’s all we have before our eyes, and for this very reason, we don’t see it.
[22] Samanta Schweblin, Fever Dream: A Novel (original title: Distancia de rescate), trans. Megan McDowell (New York: Riverhead Books, 2018).
[23] Text message to author, 21 October 2017.
[24] 'Basophobia' (fear of falling); 'pnigophobia' (fear of choking). See B. Jain Publishers Staff, Pocket Medical Dictionary (New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers, 1999).
[25] Here and in the following, I am referring to Klara Lidén’s exhibition Grounding, Reena Spaulings, New York, 4 November–16 December 2018.
[26] Cf. Hito Steyerl, "In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective," e-flux journal, April 2011, https://www.e-flux.com/journal/24/67860/in-free-fall-a-thought-experiment-on-vertical-perspective.
[27] Grounding, the title of the work, is, according to the artist, an allusion to a common method in pop psychology, which is intended to help individuals orient themselves in the present while suffering difficult emotional states such as anxiety.
[28] On walking as a kind of “controlled falling”, see, for example, Paul Virilio, The Vision Machine (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 35–60, and the following passage of Laurie Anderson’s beautiful song “Walking and Falling” (1982): “You're walking. And you don't always realize it, but you're always falling. With each step you fall forward slightly. And then catch yourself from falling. Over and over, you're falling. And then catching yourself from falling. And this is how you can be walking and falling at the same time.”