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The Archipelago Conversations, an excerpt
— Interview with Édouard Glissant
Hans Ulrich Obrist
19 December 2022
published in Issue Two

Encountering the French Carribean philosopher and poet Édouard Glissant would forever mark the trajectory of the Swiss art historian and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, who heads the Serpentine Galleries in London. Until Glissant’s death in 2011, Obrist interviewed him nine times. These interviews became part of Obrist’s colossal Interview Project, a living archive of around 4000 conversations and counting, and they were on display last year at Luma Arles in the south of France. Filmed interviews with Édouard Glissant were shown on eight screens. Posters in homage to him by contemporary artists were presented as well. The avant-garde publishing house and media project ISOLARII edited and published Obrist's conversations with Glissant in their ongoing series of palm-sized books, with the title The Archipelago Conversations

Here we publish the first chapters of The Archipelago Conversations, with a short introduction by Obrist on his late friend.

« I would first of all like to say something about archipelagos. I think the idea of the archipelago — as a place where we can begin to understand and resolve the contradictions of the world — should be propagated. The archipelagos of the Mediterranean must encounter the archipelagos of Asia, and the archipelago of the Antilles. These archipelagos must encounter each other because, across their many islands, interdependence and difference coexist — and, in this way, they carry the energy that is necessary for our whole globe, our whole world. We might currently believe that this energy derives from military or economic force, but that is not so. It lies in the ideas and poetics of how we organize the world. Continents weigh us down. They are thick and sumptuous. Archipelagos are able to diffract, they create diversity and expansiveness, they are spaces of relation that recognize all the infinite details of the real. Being in harmony with the world through archipelagos means inhabiting this diffraction, while still rallying coastlines and joining horizons. They open us to a sea of wandering: to ambiguity, to fragility, to drifting, which is not the same as futility. »

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