A Sinister Assassin
Antonin Artaud’s Last Writings, Ivry-sur-Seine, September 1947 to March 1948
by Antonin Artaud
A Sinister Assassin presents new translations of Antonin Artaud’s largely unknown final work of 1947-48, revealing new insights into his preoccupation with the human anatomy, sexuality, societal power, creativity and ill-will.
That last work - mostly undertaken at a pavilion in the grounds of a convalescence clinic in Ivry-sur-Seine, on the south-eastern edge of Paris - is the most extraordinary element of Artaud’s entire prolific body of work. It is the element now most enduringly inspirational, for artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, choreographers, and others inspired by Artaud, through its fiercely exploratory and combative forms.
Drawing from extensive archival consultations of Artaud’s manuscripts, and from many original interviews with his friends, collaborators and doctors of the 1940s, this book brings together translations of the many manifestations of Artaud’s final writings: the contents of his last, death-interrupted notebook; his letters; his two final key texts; his glossolalia; the magazine issue which collected his last fragments; and the two interviews he gave to national newspaper journalists in the final days of his life, in which he denounces his work’s recent censorship.
Edited, translated and with an Introduction by Stephen Barber, A Sinister Assassin illuminates Artaud’s last, most intensive work, for the first time.
Edited, translated and with an introduction by Stephen Barber
Photographs by Karolina Urbaniak
Artworks by Martin Bladh
Hardbound, 224 pages, 190 x 148mm
About the authors
Antonin Artaud's work has a world-renowned status for experimentation across performance, film, sound, poetry and visual art. In the 1920s, he was a member of the Surrealist movement until his expulsion, and formulated theoretical plans across the first half of the 1930s for his 'Theatre of Cruelty' and attempted to carry them through. He made a living as a film actor from 1924 to 1935 and made many attempts to direct his own film projects. In 1936, he travelled to Mexico with a plan to take peyote in the Tarahumara lands. In 1937, preoccupied with the imminent apocalypse, he travelled to Ireland but was deported, beginning a nine-year asylum incarceration during which he continued to write and also made many drawings. After his release in 1946, he lived in the grounds of a sanatorium in Ivry-sur-Seine, close to Paris, and worked intensively on drawings, writings and sound-recordings. He died on 4 March 1948. His drawings have been exhibited on several occasions, notably at the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna in 2002 and at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in 2006.
Stephen Barber’s books have been acclaimed as ‘brilliant, profound and provocative’ by The Times newspaper in the UK, and he has been called ‘a writer of real distinction’ and ‘the most dangerous man in Europe’ by The Independent newspaper. The Sunday Times newspaper hailed his books as ‘exhilarating and disquieting’.
He is the author of many fiction and non-fiction books, including studies of Antonin Artaud, Pierre Guyotat, Jean Genet and Eadweard Muybridge. Among his recent books are England’s Darkness (SunVision Press) and Berlin Bodies.
Martin Bladh is a Swedish-born artist of multiple mediums. His work lays bare themes of violence, obsession, fantasy, domination, submission and narcissism. Bladh is a founding member of the post-industrial band IRM, the musical avant-garde unit Skin Area and co-founder of the publishing company Infinity Land Press. His published work includes To Putrefaction, Qualis Artifex Pereo, DES, The Rorschach Text, The Hurtin’ Club, Darkleaks - The Ripper Genome, Marty Page, and Braquemard: The Clavicle of Gilles de Rais. He lives and works in London.
Karolina Urbaniak is a visual artist and co-founder of Infinity Land Press. Urbaniak’s published work includes To Putrefaction, Altered Balance – A Tribute to Coil, The Void Ratio, Artaud 1937 Apocalypse, Death Mort Tod - A European Book of the Dead and Torture of the 100 Pieces. Her multimedia projects include the audio/visual installation On The New Revelations of Being, inspired by the work of Antonin Artaud. She lives and works in London.