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The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2021

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MAY 2021 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

51. (Both Banks of the Hudson River)

Following the destruction of the World Trade Center towers an artist turns his attention toward the distant past of New York City, specifically to initial encounters between the region’s indigenous Lenape people and early Dutch colonialists. As he does so, he thinks about mapping and naming and what is implied by the cartographer’s bird’s-eye view and how territories are contested and the terrible sufferings inflicted on the Lenape: death, displacement, exploitation. All of these concerns feed into a film he titles Muhheakantuck-Everything Has a Name that combines footage of the east and west banks of the Hudson River shot from a helicopter. He shows the film not in a theater or gallery but on a water taxi plying the Hudson so that viewers may find their gazes swiveling back and forth between the film (projected onto two screens, one for each bank of the river) and some of the actual locations that appear in it. Near the end of the 38-minute film, which is accompanied by a voiceover commentary, he observes, “As soon as we follow one line, or one river, and not another, a journey emerges, even if it is only a dream. And of course that journey unavoidably becomes a story. Spaces that have been abstracted once more become particular places.” Muhheakantuck, the Lenape name for the Hudson, can be translated as “river that flows both ways.”

(Matthew Buckingham)

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 2021

All Issues