Art Publishing, Periodicals and Printed Things

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Century by Osip Mandelstam

You brute of a century, who could look
into the centres of your eyes
and with their blood glue back
two centuries to a severed spine?
Blood the builder flows from the throat
of everything terrestrial.
It’s only on the era’s threshold
that the parasite will tremble.

As long as creation stays alive,
it hauls around its vertebrae.
A wave will play, as if its rise
were the spine that we can’t see.
The century’s new-born lands
resemble the soft gristle of a child.
Dragged by the head, like a lamb,
life heads off to the knife.

To free the century from confinement,
so that the new world might appear,
we’ll have to take a flute to bind
the knees of our tangled era.
This is the century that heaves
human anguish like a wave,
and in the grass the viper breathes
by the century’s golden ratio.

The buds continue to swell,
the green leaves of crops will splash.
Hey, my terrible, splendid century,
your spine’s now thoroughly smashed.
Cruel and weak, with that senseless smile,
you turn your eyes back towards us,
a wild beast that used to be lithe,
now on the trail of its own claws.

Blood the builder flows from the throat
of all terrestrial things,
the warm gristle of the ocean
laps at the coast like a hot fish.
And from the birds’ high gauze,
the moist masses in the blue,
indifference pours and pours
onto your fatal wound.


Translated by Alistair Noon


Век мой, зверь мой, кто сумеет
Заглянуть в твои зрачки
И своею кровью склеит
Двух столетий позвонки?
Кровь-строительница хлещет
Горлом из земных вещей,
Захребетник лишь трепещет
На пороге новых дней.

Тварь, покуда жизнь хватает,
Донести хребет должна,
И невидимым играет
Позвоночником волна.
Словно нежный хрящ ребенка
Век младенческой земли —
Снова в жертву, как ягненка,
Темя жизни принесли.

Чтобы вырвать век из плена,
Чтобы новый мир начать,
Узловатых дней колена
Нужно флейтою связать.
Это век волну колышет
Человеческой тоской,
И в траве гадюка дышит
Мерой века золотой.

И еще набухнут почки,
Брызнет зелени побег,
Но разбит твой позвоночник,
Мой прекрасный жалкий век!
И с бессмысленной улыбкой
Вспять глядишь, жесток и слаб,
Словно зверь, когда-то гибкий,
На следы своих же лап.

Кровь-строительница хлещет
Горлом из земных вещей,
И горячей рыбой мещет
В берег теплый хрящ морей.
И с высокой сетки птичьей,
От лазурных влажных глыб
Льется, льется безразличье
На смертельный твой ушиб.

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Per Illner (Ed.), Unworking (2020)

Peer Illner



August Akademie

With contributions by Kathrin Busch, Alexander Garcia Düttmann, Alison Hugill, Anthony Iles, Peer Illner, Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Gertrud Koch, Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, Jose Rosales, Marina Vishmidt, Evan Calder Williams


Désœuvrement, variously translated as unworking or inoperativity is a notion that haunts contemporary political theory and practice. Unworking overturns the typical valuation of work and action and opens an avenue to think radical passivity and inactivity as aesthetic and political practices that question the modernist mantra of purposeful production and ceaseless activity. At its most basic, unworking is the critique of work in all its variations: Not only wage labour, as Marxism would have it, but also the work of art, the work of community-building, and even psychoanalysis imagined as ‘working through’. This collection of essays is dedicated to unworking in its various political, aesthetic and philosophical guises – exploring its potentiality as well as its dead ends and dangers. It unites a range of contemporary thinkers that embrace negation, negativity and withdrawal as political strategies, turning unworking into a “paradigm of the coming politics.” (Giorgio Agamben)

Peer Illner studied sociology, philosophy, and visual culture at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His PhD thesis at the Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research (University of Copenhagen) examined American disaster relief as a problem for social reproduction. Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Excellence Cluster The Formation of Normative Orders, Illner is a frequent guest lecturer at the Architectural Association, School of Architecture in London and at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Copenhagen.

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‘There nis sickness but health it doth desire’ by Thomas Wyatt


I know not where my heavy sighs to hide.
My sorrowful heart is so vexed with pain
I wander forth as one without a guide
That seeketh to find a thing parted in twain
And so forth run that scant can turn again.
Thus time I pass and waste full piteously
For death it is out of thy sight to be.

I scantly know from whom comes all my grief,
But that I waste as one doth in sickness
[10] And cannot tell which way comes my mischief.
For all I taste to me is bitterness
And of my health I have no sickerness
Nor shall not have till that I do thee see.
It is my death out of thy sight to be.

I live in earth as one that would be dead
And cannot die. Alas, the more my pain
Famished I am and yet always am fed.
Thus contrary all thing doth me constrain
To laugh, to mourn, to walk, to joy, to plain,
[20] And shall do still – there is no remedy –
Until the time that in thy sight I be.

There nis sickness but health it doth desire,
Nor poverty but riches like to have,
Nor ship in storm but that steering it doth require
Harbour to find so that they may her save.
And I, alas, naught in this world do crave
Save that thou list on him to have mercy
Whose death it is out of thy sight to be.

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Inventory’s paper assembly: fierce sociology, sovereignty and self-organisation in London’s small press publishing scene 1995 to 2005

Inventory’s paper assembly: fierce sociology, sovereignty and self-organisation in London’s small press publishing scene 1995 to 2005

Iles, Anthony (2019) Inventory’s paper assembly: fierce sociology, sovereignty and self-organisation in London’s small press publishing scene 1995 to 2005. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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This study attempts to deliver an intellectual history of the journal Inventory and its place within theories of knowledge, publishing, artistic practice, ethnography, politics and critical theory. The initial movement of the thesis, Chapter 1, establishes Inventory’s formal structure as a journal. Chapter 2 establishes the presuppositions and models for the use of a journal or magazine as a platform for heterodox cultural practice and inquiry. The study then follows Inventory’s proposition of a method derived from the fusion of the heterogeneous sociology of Georges Bataille and his circle in Chapter 3; and the speculative aesthetic theory, and ‘anthropological materialism’, of Walter Benjamin in Chapter 4. In Chapters 3 and 4 Inventory’s ‘constellation of methods’: surrealism – as a mode of research and publishing, rather than as a visual art – meets ethnography, the study of the culture of all humankind on a common plane of praxis. This partisan reappropriation of surrealist and ethnographic method is shown to generate a complex para-academic publishing and research project, one which has a relation to, but ultimately exceeds, contemporary theories of either the ‘artist as anthropologist’ (Joseph Kosuth), ‘ethnographic surrealism’ (James Clifford) or ‘the artist as ethnographer’ (Hal Foster). Chapter 5 discusses the journal’s presentation as writing or literature and the relation between the whole and its parts developed philosophically in the previous chapters in terms of the form of the journal itself as a constellation and the writing it cohered around and presented. This chapter therefore also discusses the development of mental or perceptual spaces of resistance to the restructuring of space discusses in the preceding chapter through experimental writing and publishing (artist projects, found texts, visionary or prophetic texts). The study subsequently situates the intellectual and cultural productions of Inventory journal within the dynamic social, political and cultural context of London in the 1990s and 2000s. This contextualisation is achieved by engagement, in Chapter 6, with a specific site of dissemination for Inventory, Info Centre (1999-2000), through it the journal associated with parallel cultural and political practices of self-publishing and self-organisation by artists, writers and activists in the late-1990s and 2000s. I argue that these practices sought to challenge existing forms of organisation, knowledge production, cultural and social totality during a period of capitalist restructuring of work, social reproduction, the urban environment and the institutions of art. The opposition to this restructuring and its re-colonisation of space in London is conceived both in terms of the production of critical commentaries on the production of space in the city (urban sociology, psychogeography); contesting established cultural histories (e.g. of surrealism, the Situationist International and conceptual art); creation of small autonomous institutions and development of mental or perceptual spaces of resistance through experimental writing and publishing. I argue that Inventory itself takes on a ‘self-institutional’ form in this situation, and as journal provides a space and singular spaces (in terms of individual contributions) for independent critical thinking (artist projects, urban sociology, found texts, visionary or prophetic texts). Chapter 7 presents the journal’s contribution to critical accounts of practices and legacies of urbanism (housing, city planning, spatial practices and government) in London in the post-war period and during the period of the journal’s publication (1995-2005). The journal’s identification of, and opposition to, forces restructuring London spatially during this period is conceived in terms of the production of critical commentaries on the production of space in the city (urban sociology and psychogeography). The Conclusion evaluates the aims of the study and reevaluates Inventory journal on the basis of the critical traditions surveyed in the prior chapters and in terms of problems arising from the path the journal followed and gaps between its projected programme or method and the achievements it attained.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
B. > Theses
Item ID: 28185
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2019 12:28
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2019 12:45
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Franco Fortini, ‘Communism’ (1958)

I was a communist throughout.
Justly though, the other communists
looked askance at me. I was a communist
despite their certainties, despite my doubts.
Justly they did not see themselves in me.
They would not admit my discipline.
My centralism seemed anarchy to them.
My self-criticisms contradicted theirs.
Special communists cannot be:
to think so is not to be so.
Justly they did not see themselves in me,
my comrades. Like them, I too
was enslaved. Even more so: I tended to forget it.
They did their work, I followed my inclination.
Exactly that: I was a communist throughout.
Despite their certainties, despite my doubts
I always wanted this world ended.
Myself ended too. And it was that exactly
which estranged us. My hopes had no point for them.
My centralism seemed anarchy to them.
As if I wanted more, more truth,
more for me to give them, more
for them to give me. Thus living, dying thus.
I was a communist throughout.
I always wanted this world ended.
I have survived enough to see
comrades who bruised me broken by intolerable truths.
Now tell me: you knew very well I was with you?
Was that why you hated me? My truth is truly needed,
breathed in through space and time, heard patiently.

Translated by Angelo Quattrocchi and Lucien Rey
New Left Review I/38, July–August 1966

Further reading on Fortini: Alberto Toscano, ‘Communism Without Guarantees: On Franco Fortini’, September, 2015, Salvage Journal,


Franco Fortini, ‘Letter to a Communist’, (1957)



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Extract from ‘The Unknown Marx’ by Martin Nicolaus

When he assessed his intellectual career in 1859, Karl Marx condemned to de-
served obscurity all of his previous works but four. The Poverty of Philosophy
(1847) first set forth the decisive points of his scientific views, although in polemical form, he wrote; and he implied that the same description applied to the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), a Speech on Free Trade of the same year, and an unfinished series of newspaper articles entitled Wage-Labour and Capital, published in 1849. He made no mention of the Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts (1844), The Holy Family and the Theses on Feuerbach (1845), and he referred to the manuscript of The German Ideology (1846) without naming its title as a work which he and Engels gladly abandoned to the mice. 1 Three years before his death, when he received inquiries regarding the eventual publication of his complete works, he is reported to have answered dryly, ‘They would first have to be written.’ 2

Marx, then, viewed most of the early works which have so aroused the enthusiasm of contemporary interpreters with scepticism bordering on rejection, and was painfully conscious toward the end of his life that the works which he had presented or was ready to present to the public were mere fragments.

The Publication of the ‘Grundrisse’


Only once in his life did [Marx] speak with a tone of achievement and a sense of accomplishment about one of his works. Only once did he announce that he had written something which not only encompassed the whole of his views, but also presented them in a scientific manner.

That occasion was in the Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), a work which also remained merely a fragment, due to difficulties with its publisher. Only two chapters of the Critique reached the public, but their content, while of importance, hardly justified the claims implicitly made for them in their Preface. The Preface outlines a whole world-view, a set of scientific doctrines which explains the movement of history in its sociological, political and economic dimensions, and demonstrates how and why the present organization of society must collapse from the strain of its internal conflicts, to be replaced by a higher order of civilization. The published chapters, however, demonstrate no such breadth, nor is the ultimate emergence of a new order clearly derivable from their content. They deal, rather, with fairly technical economic questions, and promise a long, arduous road with no clearly visible goal. What, then, was Marx talking about in the Preface? Was he making claims for theories he had not yet constructed, for ideas he had not yet written down?

Until 1939, this question remained largely a mystery. The bold generalizations made in the Preface could be traced back to equally bold but equally general statements in The Poverty of Philosophy and in the Manifesto; the volumes of Capital contain some echoes, again polemical and general. But it was difficult, if not impossible, to derive from the extant portions of Capital the answers to the most important question which the Preface announces as theoretically solved, namely the question of how and why the capitalist social order will break down. Thus Rosa Luxemburg wrote her Accumulation of Capital (1912) precisely for the purpose of filling this most important gap in Marx’s unfinished writings, 3 thereby throwing gasoline on a fiery intra-party dispute which still flickers today. Why the manuscript on the basis of which Marx wrote the Preface of 1859 remained buried until the outbreak of World War Two remains a mystery still; but in any case, in 1939 the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute in Moscow brought out of its files and published an enormous volume containing Marx’s economic manuscripts from the years 1857–58. A second volume followed two years later; and in 1953 the Dietz publishing house in Berlin republished the two volumes in one. Entitled by the editors Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Okonomie (Rohentwurf )—Fundamental Traits of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft)—and published together with im- portant extracts from Marx’s notebooks of 1850–51, this work at long last permits an examination of the material of which the generalizations in the Preface are the distillate. 4

The Grundrisse has not been ignored since its publication, but neither has it been appreciated for its full importance. Assessed initially as interesting material for a reconstruction of the genesis of Capital, the work long vegetated in the Marxologists’ underground. 5 Eric Hobsbawm introduced a fraction of it, chiefly the historical passages, as Pre- Capitalist Economic Formations in 1965. 6 Of late, isolated excerpts have appeared in the works of André Gorz and Herbert Marcuse. 7 Together, these seem to have sharpened the appetite of a growing body of intellectuals, in the amorphous New Left especially, for a closer look a this hitherto unknown but obviously important work. A French translation of the first part of the whole has finally appeared this year, but readers who remain imprisoned within the English language will have to wait. 8 No definite plans for an English translation have been made public.

All the same, the work is of epochal significance. The fruits of 15 years
of economic research, the best years of Marx’s life, are contained in
these pages. Marx considered it not only a work which overthrew the
central doctrines of all previous political economy, but also the first
truly scientific statement of the revolutionary cause. 9 Although he
could not know it at the time, it was to be the only work in which his
theory of capitalism from the origins to the breakdown was sketched
out in its entirety. However obscure and fractured, the Grundrisse may
be said to be the only truly complete work on political economy that
Marx ever wrote.

Published in New Left Review, No.48 Mar/Apr 1968.


1 Cf. the Preface of the Critique of Political Economy. With one exception, I have used the Werke edition of Marx’s and Engels’ writings, published by Dietz, Berlin, from 1962 to 1967; but I have quoted the English titles and supplied my own translations. The Preface appears in Werke Vol. 13, pp. 7–11 (W13: 7–11). An English translation can be found in Marx-Engels Selected Works, Vol. I, pp. 361–365.

2 Quoted in Maximilien Rubel: Karl Marx, Essai de Biographie lntellectuelle, Marcel Rivière, Paris 1957, p. 10.

3 Cf. Paul Sweezy: The Theory of Capitalist Development, Monthly Review Press, New York, 42, p. 202.

4 Marx: Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Okonomie (Rohentwurf ), Dietz, Berlin 1953, and Europäische Verlagsanstalt, Frankfurt. Hereafter cited as Grundrisse. Excerpts published in a Rowohlt paperback, Marx: Texte zu Methode und Praxis III, hereafter cited as R.

5 Maximilien Rubel: ‘Contribution à l’histoire de la genèse du “Capital”’, in Revue d’Histoire économique et sociale, II (1950), p. 168.

6 Lawrence and Wishart, London, and International Publishers, New York.

7 André Gorz: Strategy for Labor, Beacon Press, Boston, 1967, pp. 128–30; Herbert Marcuse: One-Dimensional Man, Beacon Press, Boston, 1964, pp. 35–36.

8 Karl Marx: Les Fondements de la Critique de I’Economie Politique (Grundrisse), 2 vols., Editions Anthropos, Paris 1967.

9 Grundrisse, p. xiii; cf. also Marx to Engels, January 14th, 1858: ‘I am getting some nice developments. For instance, I have thrown over the whole doctrine of profit as it has existed up to now.’ Selected Correspondence, London and New York, 1942, p. 102.

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A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.

— Franz Kafka

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The Prodigal Son by Roque Dalton

Once again the deep abyss, the old customs! What shall we do, then, with our laughter, with our freedom, with our morals based on anger?

You talk to me about the spirit – an old Sunday theme -, you’re lovely and I assume you have a truth for the basis of your beliefs (I can’t take my eyes off that squashed insect and its stomach that ends in a sticky yellow liquid).

Haven’t you noticed how boring hope can be?

The main thing is to make a decision: the murderer’s, the person’s who dares to he himself at last, the savior’s or the hero’s.

You can’t spend all your life returning, especially to the shithole you have for a country, to the sad mess into which they’ve turned your parents’ home, only because you’re eager to see or bring us words of solace.

Here every sign of pity is cruel unless it sparks off a fire. Every sign of maturity must prove its capacity for destruction.

And don’t expect too much. A drowning man doesn’t ask where the first boat going by is headed for.

But above everything else, there’s impatience pure and simple.

Moreover, I warn you to watch your rebellious spirit. It’s the best form of courage but it can also release rotten sentiments.

We mustn’t talk like this anymore. At this point, it would be hard to come up with a joke or cheer up.

In each side we carry so many dead ones and so many demons under the skin that the most serious moment in our life is when we do our best to laugh.

What’s more, our holding on so hard to love is incredible!

The fact is, we’ve let them cheat us and are so defenseless now that we can’t even make a distinction between our highest duties. We want to save the lost traveler, the wild beast and the mountain all at the same time.

In any case, the efficacy of our beliefs today (certain gods, ourselves, certain furtive acts, certain hates) depends absolutely on how fresh they are. But youth is a savior. The day when the world has lived enough to be young, we’ll be able to spend our time caring for our children or being jealous in matters of the flesh.

In the meantime let’s not be content to wait.

We’ve said things that are too serious for us to just sit here pleading patiently for a verdict.

We’re not alone.

(Translated by Hardie St. Martin)


This a fragment – Part XVIII – of a long poem titled “The Prodigal Son”

Dalton, Roque
Publication: The American Poetry Review
Date: Sep 1, 1996

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Rent Strike Poem (1889)

Our husbands are on strike; for the wives it is not honey,
And we all think it is right not to pay the landlord’s money,
Everyone is on strike, so landlords do not be offended;
The rent that’s due we’ll pay you when the strike is ended.


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