A specter is haunting the literary world, and its name is autofiction. Blurring the line between fiction and autobiography was the prevalent trend of the 2010s, and it caught on with art critics who started producing non-fiction that relies on memoir and novelistic devices. Why is it so tempting to get personal and write about loss and letting go?
London-based artist Anthea Hamilton relies upon what the eye beholds; her art springs from her own understanding of certain moments. Against the backdrop of a world conditioned to impose, label, and define, her work is the result of a deep receptivity where everything and anything can be of potential excitement. Be it a photograph from a 1960 dance performance by Erick Hawkins or the feel of a piece of garment, Hamilton distills her wide-ranging sources down to concentrated, singular images, suffusing them with multiple layers of research. Engaging with the pleasures and politics of looking, her concise, often diagrammatic articulations feel particularly timely.
Virginia Overton had subtly reconstructed a new physicality for the material, shifting its signifiers into a salvaged elegance, an arbitrary otherness.
The 1968 Joe L. Carter Detroit blues song “Please Mr. Foreman” has in it the lines that inspired the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in the American automobile industry: “I don’t mind working, I do mind dying.” Back then, the lines referred to the danger of working on the assembly line—with accidents and long shifts at the Chrysler and General Motors factories. But those lines still resonate when one watches Anna Witt’s latest film, Unboxing the Future (2019), only this time dying means becoming redundant, being replaced by a machine.
Jailed in 1962 for publishing forbidden material in his first novel, Sur un cheval (1960), French heavyweight Pierre Guyotat was also known for his Dionysian joie de vivre and artistic scandals.1 One of the great avant-garde visionaries of the twentieth century, Guyotat agitated the conventional novel with his signature linguistic materiality, blasphemy of syntax, and dismemberment of sex. His plaintive drawings slid down a vertical chute to a dystopic never-never land. He was the Lost Boy of self-exoneration, a degenerate tu-whit-tu-whoo. His stilt-walk over ethics, humanity, obscenity, and God sabotaged political prohibition, and, ultimately, even himself.