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The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2020

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MAY 2020 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

4. [Washington Heights]

Apart from brief excursions into the subway or the city’s parks, this artist shoots her videos entirely in her home—a plain, sparsely furnished 11th floor apartment in Washington Heights. Lasting just under an hour, they show her pacing back and forth across a room or sitting on a bed as she recites fragmented texts—which are fed to her through an earphone connected to a small recording device—about her family, about the books she is reading, about a recently deceased filmmaker she admires, about aesthetic theory, about a serious disease she is confronting. The artist delivers these recitations of her pre-recorded texts in a halting, monotone manner. While focused mostly on the speaking, pacing artist, the camera also captures details of her living space, including some of her early photographs that she has taped to the walls and windows, through which we get occasional glimpses of the sky and the city outside. Becoming her own scribe, her own echo, her own mirror as she ranges across centuries and lives, the solitary, homebound artist struggles against claustrophobia and solipsism. Or is it that she embraces them as unlikely vehicles of solidarity and transcendence? To a visiting journalist she refers to herself as “a flaneuse who never leaves her apartment.”

[Moyra Davey]

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

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The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2020

All Issues