Succubations & Incubations
Selected Letters of Antonin Artaud (1945-1947)
This selection of letters (1945-1947) from Artaud’s consummate work, Suppôts et Suppliciations [Henchmen and Torturings] translated into English for the first time, provides readers with a vivid, uniquely intimate view of Artaud’s final years. They show Artaud at his most exposed, and they are perhaps his most explosive, tragic, sad, even humorous. Each of the correspondents that came into contact with Artaud during this time were in their own way deeply affected since his project was essentially an “attack / on the mind of the public.”
Commenting on and elaborating key themes from his earlier writing, while venturing into new territory, Artaud recounts his torture and violation in asylums, his crucifixion two thousand years ago in Golgotha, his deception by occult initiates and doubles, and his intended journey to Tibet, where, aided by his “daughters of the heart,” he will finally put an end to these “maneuvers of obscene bewitchment.” Artaud also speaks of his plan to create a “body without organs” and extends this idea to the visual arts, where he argues that painting and drawing must wage a ceaseless battle against the limits of representation.
The apocalyptic vision for mankind that led Artaud on a journey, beginning in Mexico in 1936 and ending, tragically, in Ireland in 1937, with a mental breakdown, silence, and long internment in asylums, concluded with the extremely prolific late period from which these letters were drawn. There is an unmistakable unity of vision that permeates the letters: the vision of an unceasing, ubiquitous, and malignant plot “to close the mouth of lucidity” by any means, and which must be resisted at all costs.
Translated by Peter Valente & Cole Heinowitz
With an introduction by Jay Murphy
Illustrated by Martin Bladh and Karolina Urbaniak
Hardbound, 220 pages, 190 x 148mm
Each Collector's Edition set includes original artwork and the book.
Collages by Martin Bladh, size 59.5 x 32.5 cm. Signed
Artworks by Karolina Urbaniak, size 27.5 x 21.5 cm. Mounted & signed
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.
Peter Valente is the author of A Boy Asleep Under the Sun: Versions of Sandro Penna (Punctum Books), which was nominated for a Lambda award, The Artaud Variations (Spuyten Duyvil), Let the Games Begin: Five Roman Writers (Talisman House), The Catullus Versions (Spuyten Duyvil), two books of photography, Blue (Spuyten Duyvil) and Street Level (Spuyten Duyvil), two translations from the Italian, Blackout by Nanni Balestrini (Commune Editions) and Whatever the Name by Pierre Lepori (Spuyten Duyvil), Two Novellas: Parthenogenesis & Plague in the Imperial City (Spuyten Duyvil), a collaboration with Kevin Killian, Ekstasis (blazeVOX) and the poetry chapbook, Forge of Words a Forest (Jensen Daniels). He is the co-translator of the chapbook, Selected Late Letters of Antonin Artaud, 1945-1947 (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs). Forthcoming is his translation of Nicolas Pages by Guillaume Dustan (Semiotext(e), 2020), and a collection of essays, Essays on the Peripheries (Punctum, 2019). In 2010, he turned to filmmaking and has completed sixty shorts to date, twenty-four of which were screened at Anthology Film Archives in NYC.
Cole Heinowitz is a poet, translator, and scholar based in New York. Her books of poetry include The Rubicon (The Rest), Stunning in Muscle Hospital (Detour), and Daily Chimera (Incommunicado). She is the translator of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro’s Advice from 1 Disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger Fanatic (Wave Books) and Beauty Is Our Spiritual Guernica (Commune Editions), and the co-translator of The Selected Late Letters of Antonin Artaud (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs). She is the author of the monograph, Spanish America and British Romanticism, 1777-1826: Rewriting Conquest (Edinburgh University Press, 2010), and is Associate Professor of Literature and Director of the Literature Program at Bard College. Heinowitz’s translation of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro’s Bleeding From All 5 Senses was awarded the 2019 Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation.
Jay Murphy is the author of Artaud’s Metamorphosis (Pavement Books, 2016); he has contributed to CTheory, Art Journal, Deleuze Studies, Parallax, Culture Machine, Frieze, MAP, Afterimage, Parkett, Art in America, Metropolis, and Third Text, among many other publications. He has thrice been a finalist for the Sundance Screenwriting Labs, and his collaborative Internet projects have been shown at the Sundance Film Festival. He edited the alternative journal Red Bass and the book anthology For Palestine (1993). In 2009, 2011, and 2014, he organized exhibitions and programs of film and moving image work from the Middle East and North Africa for venues in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow; in 2011-12 the film series “First Person” for Inverleith House/Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh; and in 2008 gallery exhibitions in New York and Edinburgh. He is currently working on a creative nonfiction web project on the Middle East and other environs called Baraya/Perimeter.
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 and Marty Page. 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, 2014, Altered Balance – A Tribute to Coil, 2014/15/19, The Void Ratio, 2015, Artaud 1937 Apocalypse, 2018 and Death Mort Tod - A European Book of the Dead, 2018. Her recent multimedia projects include the audio-visual installation On The New Revelations of Being, 2018 inspired by the work of Antonin Artaud, and Sandmann, 2019 short film commissioned by the Sigmund Freud Museum. She lives and works in London.