You sat next to an algebraist by chance on a bus ride this spring. You had just come off a nerve-wracking flight; felt relieved to be stuck to the surface of the earth again; happy to be on a packed bus; and fortunate, above all, to be returned to the illusion of a foreseeable future. You were chatty and solicitous and with minimal prodding the algebraist soon submitted to explain his life’s work. At first he summarized it as the problem of “xy ≠ yx,” which sounds innocent enough, but after two and a half hours of his patient analogizing and finger-diagramming on the seatback in front of you, you had no better sense of how it happens that XY is not equal to YX. You only grasped that it has something to do with time. Whether that’s the time that passes between two variables or two sides of an equation or two other, more obscure abstractions, you still can’t say. At a certain point, he used both hands to indicate a grapefruit-sized sphere between you, which stood for the thought model of all possible planes of space-time in simultaneous existence. You nodded along faithfully.
There was that short story you wrote for your twin. It was your first piece of work for hire, of ghost writing. He needed to hand in an assignment; you were subcontracted to complete the task. You conceived the story against time, for sheer pecuniary reward. The main character, Willem Jan, returns from school. You describe him walking up the hill. He's tired, weighed down by responsibility, doesn't ever reach the top. Now you wonder what made you turn a teenage boy into the equivalent of an underpaid, overworked factory employee, or Sisyphus. That didn't seem to bother you back then. You enjoyed writing it.
And then there was the second story, your last attempt at fiction. A nameless female protagonist habitually walks around town with a stone on a leash. Wherever her stone gets stuck, or, as she sees it, decides to pause, she makes descriptive notes of the scene in front of them. She accumulates those notes without knowing what more to do with them. She feels they should resolve into a unified whole. You were seeking some kind of magical formula to end the tale, to resolve your writer-protagonist's problem. Ultimately, she devised a clever pagination system that did away with the need to conclude, though you don’t remember anymore exactly how it worked.
We were talking long-distance to each other about coincidences, misunderstandings, "a mathematical statement… an ambush in the night… a distant star," a forest cum library, the future, when one of us overheard another passenger say to his friend, You should talk to Alain about the art of not doing your job.” We bring Fivehundred places, a poetry press run by artist Jason Dodge, to Kiria Koula's bookshelf. We keep moving.
Sarah Demeuse reads, writes, translates, and makes exhibitions and books. For the last four years, she has mostly worked as Rivet, a curatorial office she’s run with Manuela Moscoso. They focus on longer-term projects in close collaboration with artists, often in formats other than exhibitions. Sarah was a member of the 9th Mercosul Biennial curatorial team. She has a doctorate in Romance literatures and a degree in curatorial studies. When she's away from home, Sarah collects sugar sachets.
Angie Keefer is originally from Alabama and now lives in rural New York. As an artist, writer, reader, publisher, amateur engineer and occasional librarian, Keefer works in an array of forms, including sculpture, photography, video, performance, and publishing. In 2010, she co-founded The Serving Library, a not-for-profit artists’ organization dedicated to publishing and archiving in a continuous loop, and is co-editor of The Serving Library’s bi-annual publication, The Bulletins. She has exhibited, staged, taught, published, or otherwise produced work at Kunstverein Munich (2015); Whitney Biennial, New York (2014); Liverpool Biennial (2014); Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius (2014, 2011); Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp (2013-14); ICA Philadelphia (2013); Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2013); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2013); Yale Union, Portland (2013); São Paulo Biennial, Brazil (2012); and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012), among others. Her writing has recently appeared in Mousse, Harvard Design Magazine, and The Bulletins. She graduated from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (1999), where she studied sculpture.