notes_25 BASQUIAT (nope, not).

(UPDATE; Next day, I am very unsure if this works; it’s intended to share these close ups/visual notes as lightly as possible. I may have failed! If so, please scroll down to the two ID mag links, which are excellent. I may delete this virtually private reflection on further reflection, and after all…)

Nope, not going to do that. That thing of taking up public space out there with nice-white-guy thoughts on Basquiat. I’ve had my (notional) chances after all! When Boom for Real came to London’s Barbican in 2017, after very few actual opportunities to write (the UK could not distinguish him/his work from the celebrity-gloss-at-a-distance around him/it), I realised it was too late. Definitely, definitively; I should not be writing about him or it, positively or negatively. No more white intros to be essayed. Tricky, but I’m not being nice about being a nice-white-guy, it’s just done (which ought to preclude publicly saying so nice-whitely at one’s next book event/or panel, no?).

The above applies even if nobody took up that space, btw. That’s another way of trying-but-failing in white niceness isn’t it? If you take up the space, you’ve done it again. Unthinkingly. If you don’t, then yes it may remain untaken-up because of the institutional prejudices of commissioning bodies, organs, institutions, editors, the whole deeply embedded (imperial) culture of it, but still: don’t! There’s no excuse. And, by the way, I don’t think I have nothing to say, or that what I have to say may not have value, or that I am not entitled to write/work/essay (vs so many other inherent constraints), and I’ve tried to not-say-so in drafts since 2017 (burning, thirsting)! Ideally, we will get beyond this horizon to a transformed/repaired form of commonworld, but for now it’s about whether, when and how. Oh, and who, did I mention who?

Continue reading “notes_25 BASQUIAT (nope, not).”

notes_24 “Aieeee-shaaaa”, a Potential History. Or, unlearning imperialism with Ariella Aisha Azoulay | TT

Azoulay has produced a unique handbook for the 2020s that details how, why, when and where to say no in the affirmative. Her greatest achievement is that, against the foreshortened horizons of a despoiling barbarism, she makes all our tomorrows thinkable.

Guy Mannes-Abbott – Third Text – April 2020

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, ‘Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism’

Verso Books, New York and London, 2019
656pp, ISBN 978-1788735711


Guy Mannes-Abbott

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay’s Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism is almost double the size of my copy of Edward Said’s Orientalism and about half the size, in turn, of Karl Marx’s first volume of Capital. There are many nuanced differences across such a crudely mapped zone but the quality that all three share is a burning desire to change, to radically redistribute the world as it is, or appears to be. Azoulay’s six-hundred-page-long Potential History offers a liveable commonworld through exacting reparations and ends with a very short but insistent affirmation: ‘The potential is there’. [1]

Continue reading “notes_24 “Aieeee-shaaaa”, a Potential History. Or, unlearning imperialism with Ariella Aisha Azoulay | TT”

note_11 Standing not drowning; I’m Green, you’re Green, we’re all Green | 3 May 2018

Guy Mannes-Abbott candidate webpage thumbnail copy

I am standing as a Green Party candidate in local elections in the North Walworth Ward where I live -and where once I articulated or ‘led’ what became a community campaign to rescue an urban forest and its unrecognised commons value. A campaign (2010-2013) which achieved ‘major development’ planning precedents (now in the new London Plan), a redrawn Masterplan around retained trees, removed roads and a park (albeit not yet* public), and the replanting of about 1600 trees all around the Elephant and Castle (albeit not yet* linked closely enough to it).

I agreed to stand with no illusions Continue reading “note_11 Standing not drowning; I’m Green, you’re Green, we’re all Green | 3 May 2018”

notes from a biennial -appendix [ii] in conversation with aisha khalid

click IMAGE to link to notes from a biennial – appendix [i] in conversation with aisha khalid

Aisha Khalid & I

by Guy Mannes-Abbott

Conversation at Sharjah Art Museum Sharjah UEA March 2011

Guy Mannes-Abbott [gma]

Let’s begin with your piece hanging in the entrance foyer of the Sharjah Art museum, Kashmiri Shawl [2011]?

Aisha Khalid [ak]

There is a whole story behind this piece I did, this shawl. Continue reading “notes from a biennial -appendix [ii] in conversation with aisha khalid”

on appetite and a mystic chef, george steiner essays, new statesman 1995

George Steiner August 2008

Or; If Kafka were Hindu…

Every now and then I wonder about George Steiner. Mostly it’s positive wondering but something bugs me about him and it’s not what seems to bug most people I know or read that have met him or committed their view of him to print. Much of the latter is merely a distaste for overt intellect, especially a passionate ‘continental’ mind as well as distrust of the whole dynamic of translation, literally and metaphorically.

There are pedagogic and vulgar ego issues when it comes to Steiner but let me say in brief that I dissociate myself from the cynical Brit approach to him. What continues to bug me is essentially what bugged me when I committed myself to print 15 years ago [in the New Statesman, see below]; I hate it that he won’t credit Kafka, Mozart, even little me with the capacity -effort, hours/years of silent striving and error, the beauty of the attempt- to invent.

Instead, it wasn’t Kafka or Mozart it was “god”. Who? you might say. Religious faith is one thing [later, in Errata, he described himself as a “messianic agnostic”, which is anticipated in what I wrote below], but to misrecognise the grand smallness of human effort, endeavour and appetite is wrong as well as pitiful.

Steiner is a man with a good brain and that brain has famous and all too real appetite but it strikes me therefore as worse that he closes it all down when he approaches a peak to indulge in ‘god’-whistling instead. Such vacuity is the opposite Continue reading “on appetite and a mystic chef, george steiner essays, new statesman 1995”