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One of the most widely celebrated artists of his generation, Ed Atkins makes videos, draws, and writes, developing a complex and deeply figured discourse around definition, wherein the impossibilities for sufficient representations of the physical, specifically corporeal, world — from computer generated imagery to bathetic poetry — are hysterically rehearsed.
A Primer for Cadavers, a startlingly original first collection, brings together a selection of his texts from 2010 to 2016. ‘Part prose-poetry, part theatrical direction, part script-work, part dream-work,’ writes Joe Luna in his afterword, ‘Atkins’ texts present something as fantastic and commonplace as the record of a creation, the diary of a writer glued to the screen of their own production, an elegiac, erotic Frankenstein for the twenty-first century.’
‘Discomfited by being a seer as much as an elective mute, Ed Atkins, with his mind on our crotch, careens between plainsong and unrequited romantic muttering. Alert to galactic signals from some unfathomable pre-human history, vexed by a potentially inhuman future, all the while tracking our desperate right now, he do masculinity in different voices – and everything in the vicinity shimmers, ominously.’
- Bruce Hainley, author of Under the Sign of [sic]
‘Known for his computer generated imagery, the artist often litters his surrealistic videos with his rapturous poetic speech. Here, however, the book strips us of any visuals and leaves us with the raw textual rhapsody that is elegiac, disturbing, and entertaining. If you’re a fan of the artist, this book is a no-brainer. It resoundingly lets the reader imagine for themselves what Atkins’s garrulous universe looks like.’
- Terence Trouillot, Artnet
‘How can cadavers seem so alive, speak so eloquently? Atkins’ prose is urgent, sometimes even breathless, seeming to stumble over its own material conditions. His is a unique voice that captures a truly embodied intelligence.’
- David Joselit, author of After Art
‘Atkins’ writing spores from the body, scraping through life matter’s nervous stuff, leaving us agitated and eager. What’s appealed to us is an odd mix of mimetic futures. Cancer exists, tattoos, squids, and kissing exist – all felt in the mouth as pulsing questions.’
- Holly Pester, author of Go to reception and ask for Sara in red felt tip
Ed Atkins is a British artist based in Copenhagen. In recent years he has presented solo shows at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Castello di Rivoli in Turin, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and Serpentine Gallery in London, among others. His artwork is the subject of several monographs, and his writing has appeared in October, Texte zur Kunst, frieze, The White Review, Hi Zero and EROS Journal. A Primer for Cadavers, his first collection, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2016.
Joe Luna writes poetry and critical prose out of Brighton, UK. He teaches literature at the University of Sussex.--This text refers to the paperback edition.