‘Dear Professor Žižek
I write to you from the studio in which I reside. God only knows how long I’ve been here, and all this time with the object, I never made, looking back at me.’
Now in a new third edition, with a newly designed cover, Katrina Palmer’s first ‘novel’ was commissioned from open submission and published as part of Book Works’ Semina series (No.5), edited by Stewart Home.
The novel is set within a notional art school in which the Rector’s paranoid conceptual ideology has prohibited the making of objects, yet one student remains. Increasingly isolated in The School of Sculpture Without Objects and battling with institutional directives and solitary confinement, Addison Cole exercises the prohibition on making things by writing stories, in which the protagonists only meet through the creation of fantasy scenarios. These narrate a series of explicit encounters with texts, objects and artists. Authorial figures are reduced to their pornographic effect: Slavoj Žižek becomes an impotent sexual metaphor, Hegel a skeletal spectre, the anonymous ‘Jay’, a lactating Oedipal fantasy, the Rector a scrofulous, paranoid lech.
Made up of inter-related but self-contained short stories, The Dark Object explores the tension between the restraint of narrative form, and the explosion of ontic instability. It aims not to subsume fantasy into the everyday, but rather demonstrate that everything is real, and the everyday is fantastical.
Katrina Palmer is an artist and writer, living in London. She is the author of The Fabricators Tale (2014) and End Matter (2015), both published by Book Works. She has exhibited extensively, including with an Artangel Open commission (2015), at Henry Moore Institute (2015-16), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2018), and with Estuary and Waterfronts (2021). She received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists (2014). Her 2023 solo exhibition, ‘What’s Already Going On’, at Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, will be accompanied by a new Book Works publication titled Black Slit. She is currently guest editor of Arrhythmia – a new series of publications selected from open call due for publication in 2023-24.