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Jaimey Hamilton Faris is associate professor of critical theory and contemporary art at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She has contributed articles to Art JournalOctober and InVisible Culture. She also has essays in edited volumes published by the Centre Pompidou and Oxford University Press. Her recent book, Uncommon Goods: Global Dimensions of the Readymade (Intellect, 2013), explores contemporary art’s response to expanding definitions of the commodity since the 1990s. Hamilton Faris is currently completing a collection of interviews featuring artists of Hawai’i and continuing to work on a collection of essays on the importance of islands, straits and oceans as geopoetic imaginaries, titled Of Islands and the In-between.

Calvin Tomkins, The Bride and the Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avant-Garde. New York: Penguin 1965 / Duchamp: A Biography. New York: Henry Holt, 1996 / Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews. New York: Badlands Unlimited, 2013.

For Marcel fanatics who troll the Tout-Fait website in search of never-before-revealed details about his dada life, the newly revised edition of Calvin Tomkins’ biography of Duchamp and his recently released Afternoon Interviews might be a disappointment. The content, mostly coming from his early interviews with the artist, have been accessible in archives for quite a while. Yet their timely (re)publication underscores Duchamp’s continuing relevance to the ways of the art world. These two should be read with Tomkins’ 1965 take on Duchamp in The Bride and the Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avant-Garde. His mastery at making Duchamp’s life and philosophy seamlessly conversational and of its time is still unparalleled—a reminder to the rest of us of how to write about art. One bonus in revisiting this material is that the e-book version of Afternoon Interviews, published by artist Paul Chan as part of his art project/publishing enterprise, Badlands, contains an interview with Tomkins about interviewing Duchamp.

Édouard Glissant, The Poetics of Relation. Translated from French by Betsy Wing. University of Michigan Press, 1997.

Édouard Glissant’s work reaffirms the worldwide relevance of islands studies. He was one of the most influential thinkers and writers of the Caribbean, carrying forward the legacy of Aimé Césaire hand-in-hand with one of my favorite Francophone philosophers, Gilles Deleuze. In his widely celebrated book Poetics of Relation, written later in his life, Glissant turned the post-colonial conditions of the Caribbean into a complex, energetic vision of a distinctly Antillean aesthetics and politics. This ultimately leads him to propose that island issues are fundamental to imagining a future in which the whole world understands that it is an island composed of islands. Glissant was first and foremost a poet, so it’s best to read Poetics of Relation in combination with some of his poems (I especially like the collection Black Salt). It is then the lyricism of his language starts to make total sense: His words are not just wishful thinking, but radical becomings.

Judith Schalansky, Atlas of Remote Islands: 50 islands I never set foot on and never will. London: Penguin Books, 2010.

A friend who knows my current obsession with islands recently recommended this book to me. Schalansky has a degree in art history and is also trained as a designer. She won an award for the book’s design in Germany, where it was originally published in 2009. Most of the islands included in the book are uninhabitable. Each recto page features a beautifully understated topographical map, and each verso features a whimsical collection of facts, including strange stories about each island’s colonizers, prisoners and castaways. Schalansky was born in East Germany in 1980 and spent her childhood fantasizing about places she could only dream of going. For this project, she took that same armchair travel approach, doing her research by visiting historic archives and reading scientific reports. The result is not your typical fantasy of untainted paradises, but a commentary replete with ironic disdain for the romance of expedition and unrealistic expectations of exotic travel, which can be summed up in the name of one of the places she highlights: Disappointment Island.