The Measure of Reality

Maija Timonen


Book, 19.5 x 12 cm, 123 p., language : English, publisher : Book Works, London, ISBN : 978 1 906012 69 4.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2027/555).

Literary synopsis

Fantasies and dreams are a way of accessing hidden dimensions of everyday experience, but what happens when you can’t fantasise? In this work of analytic fiction, creative and heterosexual crises unfold, shaped by the anxieties of our time. Social and economic pressures are almost crippling, yet meticulously understood – obsessively decrypted and re-encrypted by Timonen’s unnamed female protagonist who subjects everyday occurrences and encounters to absurd levels of scrutiny and interpretation, often with recourse to theory. Short story chapters, captioned in a manner reminiscent of episodes of Seinfeld, are interspersed with a letter, a list of forgotten browser tabs, a treatment for an unmade film and a variety of dating scenarios.

In one of these, speed daters smell T-shirts as the narrator desperately tries to account for an alarming absence of desire. The specificities of love and sex are shown simultaneously in Timonen’s project to be something genuinely ‘ours’ yet alienating. They act as both tools for the negotiation of the complexities of subject/object relations in contemporary capitalism and constitute a kind of precarious – even false – refuge from the trauma of living in it.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

The novel is not a part of a larger project. However, writing is a natural medium for Maija Timonen’s art. She does not make a stern distinction between it and her other output, which includes films, performance talks and more straightforwardly critical writing.

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