GAGOSIAN

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Giuseppe Penone: The In­ner Life of Forms is a new ex­am­i­na­tion of the artist’s more-than-forty-year ca­reer, re­veal­ing what con­sti­tutes sculp­ture through the in­ter­play be­tween the hu­man body, na­ture, and art. Four new es­says by Tim In­gold, Rémi Labrusse, Emily Braun, and Sal­va­tore Set­tis and a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the artist and the book’s ed­i­tor, Car­los Ba­su­aldo, ap­pear in one vol­ume, while twelve in­sight­ful texts by Daniela Lan­cioni, each an in­de­pen­dent book­let, in­ves­ti­gate the main ty­polo­gies that con­sti­tute the work’s or­ga­niz­ing prin­ci­ples. 13 pa­per­backs in box, 490 pages, $200. Lim­ited edi­tion with etch­ing: edi­tion of 50, $5000 USD; edi­tion of 200, $2500 USD Re­lated Events: Penone and Ba­su­aldo will dis­cuss the mono­graph at the Philadel­phia Mu­seum of Art on Fri­day, No­vem­ber 9, at 6pm; and at the Greene Space, New York, on Satur­day, No­vem­ber 10, at 5:30pm. Penone will sign copies of the mono­graph at the Gagosian Shop, New York, on Satur­day, No­vem­ber 10, at 2:30pm.

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Pub­lished this year on the oc­ca­sion of the ex­hi­bi­tion Har­mony Korine, at the Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou, Paris, this ca­reer-span­ning pub­li­ca­tion in­cludes an es­say by Ali­cia Knock, an in­ter­view by Em­manuel Bur­deau, and a com­plete fil­mog­ra­phy. This com­pre­hen­sive cat­a­logue, pub­lished by Riz­zoli in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou and Gagosian, is the de­fin­i­tive ac­count of Korine’s di­verse ca­reer in film and art. Paper­back, 192 pages, $45 USD

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This re­cent mono­graph on Jenny Sav­ille, cop­ub­lished with Riz­zoli, is the most com­pre­hen­sive on the artist, whose large-scale nudes con­tinue to chal­lenge ac­cepted ideals of beauty. The vol­ume unites new work with many ear­lier paint­ings and draw­ings, while the ac­com­pa­ny­ing es­says, by Richard Calvo­coressi and Mark Stevens, ex­plore the artist’s fas­ci­na­tion with the hu­man body within a broad art-his­tor­i­cal con­text. The book also in­cludes an in­ter­view be­tween Sav­ille and Sally Mann and an il­lus­trated chronol­ogy by Lau­ren Ma­hony. Hard­cover in slip­case, 392 pages, $150 USD

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Katha­rina Grosse, an ex­ten­sive mono­graph on the artist’s re­cent work, in­tro­duces read­ers to im­por­tant in situ paint­ings and doc­u­ments the artist’s 2017 Gagosian ex­hi­bi­tion. This pub­li­ca­tion in­cludes texts by Dan Cameron and Ok­wui En­we­zor, a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Grosse and Is­abelle Graw, an in­tro­duc­tion by Louise Neri, and is pre­sented in a slip­case with a sten­ciled cutout de­signed by Grosse. Hard­cover in slip­case, 280 pages, $120 USD

in­censed at the way an artist whose legacy he might have ben­e­fited from had been buried so long from his view: “Why was I and oth­ers like me de­prived from ac­cess to a ma­jor oeu­vre?” It is thanks to Es­safi that we have an im­age of Boua­nani at the end of his life: gaunt and hand­some, with sweet eyes and the wild hair of a prophet. Sur­rounded by books in his ru­ral re­treat, he ap­pears sharp, thought­ful, gen­tly amused by his own melan­choly.

The trans­la­tor and writer Omar Ber­rada also spent years search­ing for Boua­nani’s out-of-print cult novel. Even­tu­ally, as di­rec­tor of the Dar alMa’mûn cen­ter in Mar­rakech, Ber­rada pub­lished a new edi­tion of The Hospi­tal and of­fered res­i­den­cies to Boua­nani’s trans­la­tors. Above all, how­ever, the work of Boua­nani has been re­vived thanks to his daugh­ter Touda, who is an artist work­ing in video and pho­tog­ra­phy. For years now she has been painstak­ingly re­con­struct­ing her fa­ther’s un­pub­lished writ­ings, in­clud­ing a three-hun­dred-page man­u­script of a his­tory of cin­ema in Mo­rocco, and bring­ing his work to the at­ten­tion of oth­ers. Touda, whom I have met in Ra­bat more than once, shares an artis­tic affin­ity with her fa­ther, as well as a strik­ing re­sem­blance to him: the same bird-like fea­tures, ac­cen­tu­ated by her shaved head; the same slightly melan­choly re­serve that is sud­denly dis­pelled by laugh­ter. Her name, she told me once, means “she who suf­fices.”

By the time Boua­nani wrote The Hospi­tal, the open in­dig­na­tion and oc­ca­sional bravado of the po­ems he had writ­ten in the 1960s and 1970s had been dis­tilled into a cold, hard, nearly hope­less anger. “The hospi­tal is a frozen body, walled in from ev­ery an­gle,” the nar­ra­tor tells us. “Noth­ing sur­vives here ex­cept bones and men pale as lice.” One of the few things we know about the nar­ra­tor is that he is a man of let­ters; his fel­low pa­tients, on the other hand, have lit­tle ed­u­ca­tion. “All my co­horts are il­lit­er­ate,” he tells us:

Their col­lec­tive library con­tains frag­ments from the Qu­ran, shabby scraps from The Per­fumed Gar­den, A Thou­sand and One Nights sea­soned à la Mar­rakesh, and Juha’s trick­ster sto­ries. They’re porters, steve­dores, store­keep­ers, the un­em­ployed, smug­glers of ev­ery kind, the re­jects of in­ex­pli­ca­ble wars and an aborted na­tional re­sis­tance, farm boys with­out land or bread, left be­hind like febrile, rerouted cast­aways, with a cargo of off-sea­sons and coarse lan­guage, still smelling of corn­bread and cow dung.

Yet the nar­ra­tor feels af­fec­tion rather than con­de­scen­sion for these self­dep­re­cat­ing, clear-eyed, foul-mouthed out­casts, and they in turn en­trust him with their sto­ries. “Maybe one day you’ll write a book about us,” says one, “about our tes­ti­cles, about the beau­ti­ful shit that we’re drown­ing in.”

Once again Boua­nani is act­ing as chron­i­cler of his so­ci­ety. He uses all his lit­er­ary gifts to con­vey ug­li­ness and hope­less­ness, coarse voices that none­the­less main­tain their dig­nity. One of the re­mark­able char­ac­ter­is­tics of The Hospi­tal is how mas­ter­fully it weaves to­gether high and low reg­is­ters, wist­ful­ness and vi­o­lence, the lyri­cal and the scat­o­log­i­cal. Boua­nani’s writ­ing— which in The Hospi­tal, and es­pe­cially in the orig­i­nal French, un­coils in long, barbed sen­tences—mixes melan­choly, fury, wild vi­sions, and hu­mor. Some of this is lost in Vergnaud’s trans­la­tion, which although gen­er­ally faith­ful and grace­ful breaks the long French sen­tences into shorter declar­a­tive ones in English, some­times chang­ing the or­der and there­fore the em­pha­sis of their parts. Boua­nani’s lan­guage still has its force but it loses some of its rhythm and lands fewer of its blows.

The pa­tients speak freely be­cause no one cares what they say. No one— them­selves in­cluded—seems to ex­pect them to ever re­cover or leave. They are ma­rooned in the hospi­tal, the gate of which has a dis­turb­ing habit of re­ced­ing or dis­ap­pear­ing en­tirely. The hospi­tal au­thor­i­ties, as is of­ten the case in au­thor­i­tar­ian states, are all-pow­er­ful yet ab­sent, un­re­spon­sive. Nor does re­li­gion of­fer much guid­ance or con­so­la­tion. Those pa­tients who try to preach to oth­ers are of­ten vi­o­lently re­buffed and mocked: “You can help your­self to my spot in par­adise and set up a gro­cery store while you’re at it.” At one point a pa­tient jokes that, since an­gels are “the civil ser­vants of heaven,” a bribe is needed to en­sure timely en­try into the af­ter­life.

What hangs over the hospi­tal isn’t the fear of death or hell but of be­ing for­got­ten, of dis­ap­pear­ing amid com­plete in­dif­fer­ence. The nar­ra­tor feels “the threat of one day be­ing di­luted like a com­mon so­lu­tion in the mur­der­ous hospi­tal air.” The only safe­guards against obliv­ion are the pa­tients’ fee­ble hu­man bonds, their shared bit­ter jokes, and their ex­hausted sol­i­dar­ity. When the nar­ra­tor’s clos­est friend, Le Cor­saire (he gets his nick­name be­cause he hails from the an­cient pi­rate city of Sale; Vergnaud trans­lates it as Rover, not quite fe­lic­i­tously), fi­nally leaves, he in­sists on giv­ing the nar­ra­tor a small basil plant. Basil, he ex­plains, is

the plant of the Prophet and sailors, it’s an eye open to the fu­ture, the farmer’s crys­tal ball . . . . You just need to plant it in a lit­tle bit of dirt and wa­ter it, a few drops will keep it alive for a hu­man eter­nity. I’m en­trust­ing it to you, take care of it like it’s your flesh and blood. As long as it doesn’t wither, I’ll live, and if one day its green petals fade, well then . . .

The nar­ra­tor mocks his friend but, once he is gone, takes his trust se­ri­ously. On the last page, he makes clear it’s be­come part of the struc­ture of his days:

I slide un­der my blan­ket, think­ing that sleep will con­sume it­self like a burn­ing piece of pa­per. When there’s noth­ing but ashes left, I’ll once again wake up in the light of a new day and walk be­hind the veranda, to the spot where I planted basil leaves at the base of the wall.

Ahmed Boua­nani be­lieved that it is only by tend­ing what oth­ers have passed down to us, by pro­tect­ing their mem­o­ries, that we can find mean­ing and con­so­la­tion in this hard world. In the end, he seemed re­signed to be­ing for­got­ten him­self. Against the odds, he hasn’t been.

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