Thursday, May 17, 2007

Writ Large

From darkmatter via Amitava Kumar:

The interior and exterior space of the writer is blown up in Giancarlo Neri’s 30ft table and chair made from six tons of steel, plated with wood and painted brown. Placed deliberately in Hampstead Heath (London, UK) in 2005, an area with a historical concentration of canonized writers (Keats, Freud, Marx, to name a few). As one moves around the elongated table legs and looks up from under the table, the weight of the world as it is carried by the labour of writers, overwhelms, tires and leaves one wondering. In the writing of the literary histories of this landscape we know that the processes of legitimation and memorialisation have sliced out particular writers who have taken in the air of the heath and spoken out to the global currents of the landscape.

Only a five minute walk away from the sculpture, is located the house where C.L.R. James and George Lamming lived during the 1950s. The footprints of these Caribbean diasporic writers, as well as the scores of other theorists, musicians, students and writers from the colonies which have lived and written in the area are not part of the social imagination of what has been hailed as a specific literary corner of the world. The guidebooks of local histories are not full of the concerns of C.L.R. James as he sat at his desk on 70 Parliament Hill writing about racism and revolt, for instance. Neither does the house have a blue plaque at the front of it.

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