The Things on My Desk
Sep 2020

1) Two pamphlets from WIELS for the exhibitions of Thao Nguyen Phan (Monsoon Melody) and Wolfgang Tillmans (Today Is the First Day). The exhibitons were supposed to end in April and May 2020, respectively. They were extended till July 2020 when travels were possible again between Brussels and the Netherlands after months of quarantine. I was able to acquire these pamphlets then. (They are in French and Dutch. I am fluent in neither.)

2) Moyra Davey’s Index Cards, inside which I have placed yellow bookmarks (and written on them). One reads: in search of images. Another: time embedded in language. I suggested MD as a guest artist speaker for the Master’s program from which I graduated this year. MD and I have since corresponded about the logistics. She has confirmed her date to speak. I am quite happy.

3) The exhibition catalog of Monsoon Melody. I flipped through it before I went to see the exhibition in person. Sometimes exhibition catalogs appear in my house, about which I feel fortunate.

4) The exhibition catalog of Passages, a retrospective exhibition of Chantal Akerman. I first heard of Akerman a year and half ago, when a tutor from my Master’s referenced Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles after viewing my footage at the time. Akerman’s works surfaced again when I was reading a chapter on the aesthesics of diaspora this year. As this very catalog found itself into my house, my thesis adviser drew my attention to Akerman, once again: her self-exile to New York, her being a writer and filmmaker, her texts and films with — and about — her mother. I went to see the exhibition and No Home Movie, Akerman’s last film, in August 2020.

5), 6) & 7) Essays by Lydia Davis, an anthology called Essays on the Essay Film & a book that deconstructs the image by analyzing the choices of the camera lens. (I have not started to read the last one.)

8) A few articles on the topic “film as composition.”

9) A physical folder of three required readings for a symposium which I am attending in two days. The readings consist: Intercultural Communication and the Way We Think about Language by a professor who keeps citing one of his own forthcoming papers, one document on sign languages (and cultural hegemony) and one blog post on fair language use in international cultural cooperation. I think they might be useful when — and only when — placed against texts such as Proximity and Distance in International Feminist Dialogue by Sara Ahmed and On Whiteness and the Racial Imaginary by Claudia Rankine and Beth Loffreda, both of which I have added to the folder.

10) Three papers on Hukou, the Chinese household registration system.

11) Notes from two phone calls with my mom.

12) A few books in Dutch I picked up for free from a community reading room. One says on the cover: Nobelprijs literatuur 1988. I looked up the author Nagieb Mahfoez (English: Naguib Mahfouz, Arabic: نجيب محفوظ‎) and the name of the title De moskee in de steeg: verhalen. I have not found out the English translation of this title.

13) An article I fished back out from recycling after tossing it in the day before. It is from an old issue of October (1976) and is titled Notes on Composing in Film. It is barely readable with its complicated syntax and academic prose. (I am adding it to the folder under 9) as an example of failed communication.)

14) I do not have this on my desk yet: Words Are My Matter by Ursula K. Le Guin. I will.