A Primer for Cadavers

Ed Atkins (Author) Joe Luna (Afterword by)


One of the most widely celebrated artists of his generation, Ed Atkins makes videos, draws, and writes, developing a com-plex and deeply figured discourse around definition, wherein the impossibilities for sufficient representations of the physical, specifically corporeal, world--from computer generated imagery to bathetic poetry--are hysterically rehearsed. A Primer for Cadavers, a startlingly original first collection, brings together a selection of his texts from 2010 to 2016. 'Part prose-poetry, part theatrical direction, part script-work, part dream-work, ' writes Joe Luna in his afterword, 'Atkins' texts present something as fantastic and commonplace as the record of a creation, the diary of a writer glued to the screen of their own production, an elegiac, erotic Frankenstein for the twenty-first century.'

Product Details

$20.00  $18.40
Fitzcarraldo Editions
Publish Date
April 24, 2018
5.0 X 1.2 X 7.7 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Ed Atkins is a British artist based in Berlin. In recent years, he has presented solo shows at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London, and MoMA PS1 in New York, among others. His writing has appeared in October, Texte zur Kunst, frieze, The White Review, Hi Zero and EROS Journal. A Primer for Cadavers is his first collection.

Joe Luna writes poetry and critical prose out of Brighton, UK. He teaches literature at the University of Sussex.


'A Primer for Cadavers is a book I have been waiting for - Ed Atkins is one of the great artists and writers of our time. He draws attention to the ways in which we perceive, communicate and filter information by combining layered images with incomplete fragments of speech, subtitles, drawing and handwriting. He describes this approach as "an attempt to address the body hole, rather than privilege sight [or] hearing... the work finding its home within the body of the reader." It underscores the ambivalent relationship that exists between real and virtual objects, between real and virtual conditions and between us and our virtual selves. A Primer for Cadavers is a brilliant book!'
-- Hans Ulrich Obrist, author of Ways of Curating

'Discomfited by being a seer as much as an elective mute, Ed Atkins, with his mind on our crotch, careens between plainsong and unrequited romantic muttering. Alert to galactic signals from some unfathomable pre-human history, vexed by a potentially inhuman future, all the while tracking our desperate right now, he do masculinity in different voices - and everything in the vicinity shimmers, ominously.'
-- Bruce Hainley, author of Under the Sign of [sic]

'Everything here lives in the uncanny valley, that strange space of revulsion that holds the almost human - what's us, but not quite.'
-- Leslie Jamison, Parkett

'Known for his computer generated imagery, the artist often litters his surrealistic videos with his rapturous poetic speech. Here, however, the book strips us of any visuals and leaves us with the raw textual rhapsody that is elegiac, disturbing, and entertaining. If you're a fan of the artist, this book is a no-brainer. It resoundingly lets the reader imagine for themselves what Atkins's garrulous universe looks like.'
-- Terence Trouillot, Artnet

'How can cadavers seem so alive, speak so eloquently? Atkins' prose is urgent, sometimes even breathless, seeming to stumble over its own material conditions. His is a unique voice that captures a truly embodied intelligence.'
-- David Joselit, author of After Art

'Ed Atkins comes across as a writer who makes art. His body of work includes screenplays, audio, and videos that are the visual equivalent of a poem: sentences of image and sound are layered rhythmically, punctuated by repeated motifs.'
-- Kathy Noble, Art Review

'Ed Atkins knows that "your body is deaf, mute, dumb, and, more, importantly, dangerous. No use talking to it, is there? Anyways, it's busy." Isn't it weird to have a busy body, especially one distributed on many "platforms," across media? In his writing, Atkins slows down that preoccupied body, puts it back together, thrusts it into the "imaginative context" of "particularly effusive relations," murders it, zombifies it, tears it apart again in that old medium of the written word. He puts it on trial, he writes, but finds that it in turn tries him. File your amicus curaie. We all stand with him.'
-- Andrew Durbin, author of MacArthur Park