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The Archipelago Conversations

The Archipelago Conversations

Édouard Glissant und Hans Ulrich Obrist





11 x 7 x 1.5

224 pages

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Hans Ulrich Obrist met the Martinique-born philosopher, poet, and public intellectual Édouard Glissant in 1999; the encounter influenced the direction of Obrist’s work for years to come. As one of today’s most prolific producers of culture, Obrist has left an indelible mark-and Glissant through him. In 2021, Obrist edited, reworked, and arranged their conversations in their entirety for the first time and for a broad public audience.

THE ARCHIPELAGO CONVERSATIONS is the result - enlightening us, as only Glissant can, as to how we might form an interdependent Earth in the 21st Century. It is a ready-to-hand tool, for building new politics, societies, and institutions-to be carried and shared.

isolarii revive an extinct literary genre, the Renaissance "island books" of the same name. Together, they form an archipelago of today's avant-garde movements and figures.

The humanism of the past five hundred years is dead. Believing man was exceptional, it opened the abyss of extinction. A new approach is needed to re-enchant the world and establish the commonality of all life on Earth. This is not just the task of politics and philosophy. It requires the effort of all those who tear down convention in order to preserve what is meaningful. That is, the preservation not just of environments, but myth, irrationality, autonomy, and joy—whether by direct or poetic means. New islands—of thought, literature, art—are already emerging. They are the necessary minimum for this re-beginning. We find these points of orientation, mapping a scattered community that spans continents and disciplines. To represent a world of many worlds, not a globe.

Our books revive the extinct genre of the same name—the ‘island books’ that emerged at the start of the Renaissance. Bound together were poems, stories, and artworks—each a supposed island, a space that held a singular idea. Although this spatial form of literature was eclipsed by the novel, it continued to inspire writers from Thomas More to Georges Perec. As the historian George Tolias writes, isolarii “seem to reflect an ‘underground’ geographical culture...that flourished in the experimental and tolerant climate of the Renaissance but has now slipped out of our grasp.”

Six hundred years after the first isolarii were published, we take up this genre-bending format to navigate the turbulence of our times. Each book is a ready-to-hand island. Together, they are a growing archipelago. Islands from which to view the world anew.

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