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foto: Bente Aarby


Hvad er asemisk skrift? Det kort svar er: ulæselige tekst skabt af tegn uden indhold. Det mest præcise svar giver den asemiske skrift selv, fordi den netop svarer på spørgsmålet uden brug af sproglige konventioner. Spørgsmålet rejser sig derfor øjeblikkeligt, når man møder de ulæselige og utilpassede skriftformer. Denne bog svarer på spørgsmålet netop ved at stille det. Med enoghalvtreds opslag, hvor forskellige skrifter pulserer hen over siderne og stiller sig til rådighed for læserens suverænt frie læsende blik. Et forord af forfatteren trækker et personligt spor gennem bogens væv af tekster. En elegant og sårbar tråd i forvandling til oprørsk litteratur. En litteratur der ultimativt fordrer, at læseren vælger sine egne stier.


foto: Bente Aarby

foto_ Bente Aarby

To write that you are unable to write is also writing. 

    In the autumn of 2010, I found myself in Paris trying to write a collection of poems, but to avoid what I seemed unable of achieving anyway, I roamed the city and accidentally came past the Centre Pompidou. Inside was an exhibition of works by Hanne Darboven, Mirtha Dermisache, Pierrette Bloch, Irma Blank and many other artists who had in common that they were women and that they wrote. But their texts had no content; so-called asemic writing. Some works were sculptural; Pierrette Bloch’s twisting constructions of horsehair spanned the space casting shadow writing on the walls. But most of the works were two-dimensional and related to the page or the surface of paper itself. German Irma Blank presented examples from Eigenschriften, a form of diary, begun during a move to Italy where she became unable to communicate with her surroundings in her native language. The lines on the paper are reminiscent of writing; with rhythm, time and repetition, but lacking semantic content the sentences have become pure sensations, transferred from the hand to surface of the paper. 

    After half a lifetime spent in libraries, among syllabus lists, shared literary canons, which of course form the backbone of literature, and from which one can take eccentric detours according to interests, I had stumbled across a shadow library, a parallel universe that made me realise that there were people who did other things with writing. They resembled an angry chorus of voices who refused to conform to current norms and expressed their authorship in other ways. 

Afterwards, I also decided to erase the semantic content of my texts in the hope of finding new ways into language. To reach the alphabet’s skeleton and uncover the most functional writing, if you can say that about a text that is undecipherable. I experienced a hunger for a literature that was as minimal as possible, devoid of content or that existed precisely as nothing other than unwritten thought or empty form. The exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, became, for me, a symbol of rebellion, that I am almost certain lay in many of the records on display. Where writing is usually considered as an secretary for a content, asemeric writing makes no attempt to  communicate anything but itself as writing – and yet the works on the walls, in the display cabinets  throughout the spaces and in the books in the museum seemed to embody a political resistance against the dominance of the alphabet and the current literary canon, allowing the reader to create the content themself, or not, should she prefer silence.  


Translated by Phillip Shiels

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