AUDIBLE GALLERY: Joseph Clayton Mills: 'The Patient'


Joseph Clayton Mills' The Patient, a body of work based on the final writings of Franz Kafka, fragments written as casual communication on slips of paper while the author, mute, was dying from tuberculosis of the larynx. Casting Kafka's crystalline phrases in an astute visual vocabulary of distressed surfaces, obscured words, décollage, and gauze, Mills ressurects writing as a bodily act, a literal inscription not set in stone or paper or glass, but catalyzed in the public space of the gallery. Mills selects from the disconnected yet coherent shards of text and re-casts them as precise image-moments to behold: not ossified, but re-embodied; not ironic, but intact within Kafka’s severe sincerity. True to their sources, which are imbued with the somber obviousness of an imminent and conscious death, the works in The Patient are elegiac, impure, funereal, delicate, specific, and sober – in this way, they partake in the sublime unfinished world that Barthes invokes as fundamental to Kafka’s literature: no explanation, no position, no symbol, no reflection, only immersion.