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Illusion is a Gangstergirl

Illusion is a gangstergirl

the sensitive killer’s tattoo spelled out


Illusion is a gangstergirl

read the fortune cookie message

at the end of a supposedly noncommittal dinner


Illusion is a gangstergirl

signified the faint graffiti

on the wall your life once belonged to


Illusion is a gangstergirl

is the phrase running through your mind

as you gradually, ineluctably,

lose touch with pop music

for the third (and most likely last) time in your life


Illusion is a gangstergirl

insinuated a pair of eyes

across a crowded room


Illusion is a gangstergirl

I thought I heard my friend whisper in warning

as the slender stranger approached us


Illusion is a gangstergirl

blared the advertising slogan on the vivid billboard

she was standing in front of

when she turned back to look at me


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

the only memorable line by the reigning avant-garde


of Auckland, New Zealand in 1955


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

an anagram for “langourous green misprints”

(just kidding)


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

the name of an unknown band

my eyes once caught in a list of coming attractions


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

the title of an infinitely personal Dutch film

made in 1968:


sophisticated and yet rarely mannered;

it is rich in subplots and spurts of imagination

that arouse only a temporary sense of confusion


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

the subtitle a lesser German conceptual artist

once singled out from a famous Japanese film

for a photo-work that’s in none of the standard

reference books


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

col., 5mn, 1979

an unflinching attempt to situate autobiographical


of knowledge, pain and concealment

within the larger context

of deepening world crisis


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

Col., 15 mn, 1978

a young woman’s smiles

are turned into quasi abstract forms

with the aid of a special effects generator

(“Le truqueur universel”)


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

b&w, 35mn, 1978

the university cafeteria in Bologna

bookshops and demential rock pubs

Bifo at Beaubourg


the end of an era

terrorism clears out revolutionary language

today we talk of war and its scenario

the desire may be headed for a literary end


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

b&w, 1h45mn, 1976-77

How are we portrayed in the movies?

24 American and French actresses

attempt to give an answer to this question.

How lucky that a videotape

allows us to talk about cinema!


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

the catchphrase that was all the rage

in certain teenage, Northern California circles circa



Illusion is a gangstergirl,

a statement designed to catch the eyes of the same


for whom “clean living in difficult circumstances”

was a thoroughly acceptable motto


Illusion is a gangstergirl,

the epitaph gracing the tombstone

of someone whose name would surprise you

Illusion is a gangstergirl,

words that once made a woman laugh

for reasons the poet once thought he knew


Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the New York-based author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). Excerpts from his recently completed book Libraries of Sand about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès have appeared in BombThe Fortnightly Review and 3:AM Magazine. In January 2023, Bloomsbury Academic will publish a collection of his writing titled Negative Work: The Turn to Provisionality in Contemporary Art. Since 2008 he has been Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR-MAY 2003

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