Asymptote's Summer Issue

Asymptote’s summer issue is out. The nonfiction section includes texts by Fausto Alzati Fernández, Rasha Khayat, and Silviano Santiago.

After six years at the nonfiction editor of Asymptote, this was my last issue, as I step down to focus on my own writing. It was a great pleasure, and a wonderful education in literature, to work with Asymptote for all these years.

I was able to edit and publish some of my favourite writers, including Dominique Eddé, Abdourahman A. Waberi, Abdelfattah Kilito, Abdellah Taïa, Antonin Artaud, Gonçalo M. Tavares, Miljenko Jergović, and Semezdin Mehmedinović, amongst so many others.

Learning about writing from all over the globe, and then somehow managing the challenge of editing it all, made working with Asymptote a true education in literature.

A new issue of Asymptote is out

I am the nonfiction editor at Asymptote, a journal of literature in translation, and we have a new issue out! In the nonfiction section, read Waberi on his travels in Rwanda, Singer on the nature of the feminine, and a wonderful piece of Polish reportage by Ziemowit Szczerek on his travels to the grave of Bruno Schulz.

How To Do Things With(out) Words

On 25 April 2015, I participated in a panel entitled 'Fact, Fiction and the In-between' at the Art in General What Now? symposium on the Politics of Listening, organized in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.

A book that collates the discussions which occurred during that symposium has now been published, and my talk, entitled 'How To Do Things With(out) Words', which dealt with redacted documents from the war on terror, is on pp.48-53.

A State of Disunity: Conflict Dynamics in Unity State, 2013-15

Image (c) Jérôme Tubiana

Jérôme Tubiana, Claudio Gramizzi and I have a 256 page working paper with Small Arms Survey's HSBA project, that looks at the history of the South Sudanese Civil War in Unity State, 2013-16.

It includes analysis of the UN's decision to arm the rebels at the outset of the conflict, the manipulation of humanitarian aid, and a blow by blow account of the war, county by county.

You can read it here.

In the Dead Letter Office

I have an essay out in the catalogue of Jenny Holzer's exhibition, War Paintings, which is running at the Museo Correr in Venice, from 7 May to 22 November. The exhibition was curated by Thomas Kellein, and the catalogue is published in cooperation with the Written Art Foundation.

You can purchase the catalogue here, or you can read my essay here. An earlier version of the essay was published by Media-N, and could be read here.

The essay begins:

 

Behind the canvas, the water looks cold and unforgiving. It is as if the words were written onto ice crystals, black on blue, and where the canvas is still dark and liquid, I have to step closer in order to read them. Only when I lean in can I see the file number at the top of the page, (0062-04-C | D 369-69278), which indicates that the painting is based on a government document. It is difficult to read the words.

   Fig I. in (JIHAD) time, 2014, oil on linen, 57 x 44 in. / 147.3 x 111.8 cm. Text: U.S. government document. © 2014 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. 

 

Fig I. in (JIHAD) time, 2014, oil on linen, 57 x 44 in. / 147.3 x 111.8 cm. Text: U.S. government document. © 2014 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. 

Slowly, I make out the handwritten lines that begin page 99 of the U.S. military’s report on the actions of the Special Forces personnel that beat and burnt eight prisoners in Gardez, Afghanistan, before dousing them with cold water and sending them out into the snow and ice. It begins: “I that my Renown is mentioned in (JIHAD) time I was a childe.”

New essay on Abyei

I have an essay out with Small Arms Survey on the situation in Abyei, which you can read here. As a taster:

The current situation is eminently productive for the GoS. The deferral of a political resolution to Abyei’s future allows it continue to reap the benefits of the oil revenue from Difra, which it is supposed to share with the Abyei area, while also placating the Missiriya, who graze unopposed in northern Abyei, without the consent of the Ngok Dinka. The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) plays a role in GoS’ current strategy. In order to minimize tensions between the two communities, the peacekeepers have created a security cordon around the centre of Abyei, in order to protect the area in which the majority of the Ngok Dinka live, and allow the Missiriya pastoralists, who annually migrate to the north of Abyei during the dry season, to graze their herds without encroaching on Ngok Dinka agricultural land. The creation of this cordon has had several unintended consequences. Whereas previously the Missiriya would negotiate with the Ngok Dinka over the routes they took through Abyei, the northern pastoralists now graze freely in the north of the territory. This undermines relations between the two communities; annual grazing meetings used to be the time when debts for the thefts and killings of the previous year were addressed, and migratory routes agreed as part of a complex calculus of alliances, kinship, and shifting ecological conditions. For many Ngok Dinka, the Missiriya now graze at will, with UNISFA effectively functioning as their bodyguards.

In the Dead Letter Office

 

Fig. 1. in (JIHAD) time, 2014, oil on linen, 57 x 44 in. / 147.3 x 111.8 cm. Text: U.S. government document. © 2015 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Used with permission.

I have a new piece out in Media-N, on Jenny Holzer's redaction paintings. A version of this essay is also forthcoming in the catalogue of Jenny Holzer's 'War Paintings' exhibition, currently on display in the Museo Correr in Venice. The catalogue is edited by Thomas Kellein, and is being produced in collaboration with Frankfurt's Written Art Foundation. You can read the piece at it appeared in Media-N here.

This is the beginning of the piece:

Behind the canvas, the water looks cold and unforgiving. It is as if the words were written onto ice crystals, black on blue, and where the canvas is still dark and liquid, I have to step closer in order to read them. Only when I lean in can I see the file number at the top of the page, (0062-04-C | D 369-69278), which indicates that the painting is based on a government document. It is difficult to read the words.

Slowly, I make out the handwritten lines that begin page 99 of the U.S. military’s report on the actions of the Special Forces personnel that beat and burnt eight prisoners in Gardez, Afghanistan, before dousing them with cold water and sending them out into the snow and ice. It begins: “I that my Renown is mentioned in (JIHAD) time I was a childe.”