Appelbaum – Chtcheglov

A former resident of the Soviet Union, Ivan Chtcheglov was arrested in Paris and committed by his wife, subdued with insulin and shock therapy, and reduced to existential ash. This provisional, reflexive text, evokes the unrehabilitated subject of Chtcheglov whose perpetually disquieting dematerialization in an institution, fifty years ago, has left him nearly forgotten.

The life and work of Ivan Chtcheglov have been sequestered together in the furrow of an obscure social nerve. An apparently permanent institutionalization followed the appearance of his "Formulary for a New Urbanism" (1953), written at age nineteen under the name Gilles Ivain.

Disturbed by the Eiffel Tower's black, inner lamp, his body menaced by negatively charged wands while the others slept, Chtcheglov resolved to extinguish the structure whose beacon kept him awake. He decided with finality "to strain to still discover mysteries," to change consciousness like a bloody shirt. After stumbling in the darkness and breaking a few drinking glasses in a caf?, the former resident of the Soviet Union was arrested in Paris and committed by his wife, subdued with insulin and shock therapy, reduced to existential ash. A gauze of pitchblende shrouded his beloved experimental districts.

Ten years later, Chtcheglov wrote from the sanitarium to his Lettrist comrades. "I am in a privileged milieu to study a group and its functions... It is a miracle we are not dead." (Letters from Afar, International Situationniste, No. 9, 1964).

Unanswered queries to France about his fate. Stars pouring through the facial orifices of the single photo. A group of poems, faint nebulae. A text can never conclude, that will always want to suppress itself. A provisional, reflexive text, evoking the unrehabilitated subject arousing its sympathy: the perpetually disquieting dematerialization, nearly fifty years ago, of Ivan Chtcheglov.

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