“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
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’. 
Continue reading “notes_24 “Aieeee-shaaaa”, a Potential History. Or, unlearning imperialism with Ariella Aisha Azoulay | TT”
From the Portuguese original of Llansol’s Geography of Rebels
In lieu of writing critically about Maria Gabriela Llansol’s first ever publication in English; The Geography of Rebels, from Houston’s Deep Vellum, I’m posting this sly reference (below, plus). However, as I said re Mallo, these and some of 2019’s forthcoming books (mostly in translation), call out for serious, passionate, engaged, authoritative responses from writers. I hear the call and am going to be responding again after a long interlude.
Spend a life attempting to capture the resistant poetics of your existence (what/why else?) and you do gain special access to other writing. You can see right through most of it -line by smooth paragraph by over-recognisable page- but also locate magic; know, observe or instinctively recognise how it is done. It’s all in the writing. If you make original sentences or pages, then you know about each word, each in between, and all their potentialities. The call is urgent. Books pages tend to agree on what is important, especially viz work in translation, exceptions are treasured like monsoon rain. I almost always felt differently (2019: Khaled Khalifa, Enrique Vila-Matas, Anne Boyer, Saidiya Hartman, Ariella Aisha Azoulay, Yasser Elsheshtawy, but also E J Burnett, Laura Beatty, etc.); a significant motivator in paying attention to awkwardness, the resistant or ‘difficult’, complex or subtle, and the ‘foreign’. No apologies. Continue reading “note_15 On M G Llansol’s The Geography of Rebels in Graz; any place for a nonviolent image?”
“One. Mickey Mouse is not one of the bronze figures that grace Jewad Salim’s “Nusub al-Hurriya” (Liberty Monument”, 1961) in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square…”
On the occasion of Ala’s first showing of her Plan for a Greater Baghdad (2015) at Delfina Foundation in London along with a new work; Plan for Feminist Greater Baghdad (installation view above; photo Tim Bowditch, courtesy DF and Art Jameel), I should share this text of mine (below in page by page pdfs) since it is not yet re-published in book form. It was commissioned as an independent text and explicitly not as a critique of the work itself. This was not because a serious critical piece on the work would not be good to read or write but because I wanted to extend my e.things essay form and write more broadly about subjects that I had some intimacy with over many years.
Figuring Lesser Baghdadis (One to Seven) belonged with another such text from 2015, Labouring One to Seven (Island of Terror) produced for Venice Biennale and e-flux journal‘s brilliant SUPERCOMMUNITY project, now re-published by Verso with an Introduction by Antonio Negri. The latter was explicitly the model for the former. It was also a “small collaboration” to use Ala’s phrase when we discussed it in 2015. Continue reading “note_02 Figuring Lesser Baghdadis (One to Seven) a “small collaboration” w Ala Younis 2015″