Program: Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 7pm - Book launch: Sophia Al-Maria, Sad Sack; in conversation with Michael Vazquez
Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 7pm          e-flux, 311 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002, USA

Book launch: Sophia Al-Maria, Sad Sack; in conversation with Michael Vazquez

Sophia Al-Maria, Sad Sack (Book Works, 2019). Photo: Laura Cugusi

Join us at e-flux for an evening with writer and artist Sophia Al-Maria in conversation with writer and editor Michael Vazquez, in celebration of Al-Maria's recent book Sad Sack (Book Works, 2019).

Still there are seeds to be gathered, and room in the bag of stars.
—Ursula K. Le Guin

For me this book is a bag... Like any single-use carrier bag – I disapprove. It shouldn’t exist, it contributes to pollution, it should be banned... And yet, in spite of the fact I know this book may be a waste product... I’m still writing, redacting, expanding... I’m still waiting, wasting, wanting. According to Ursula, ‘It is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it’s useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag.
—Sophia Al-Maria

Sad Sack is a book of collected writing by Sophia Al-Maria, taking feminist inspiration from Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1986 essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction;” opposing “the linear, progressive, Time’s-(killing)-arrow mode of the Techno-Heroic.” Encompassing more than a decade of work, Sad Sack tracks Al-Maria’s speculative journey as a writer, from the first seed of her “premature” memoir, through the coining and subsequent critique of “Gulf Futurism,” towards experiments in gathering, containing, welling up, and sucking dry. 

Emerging from under a weight of climate depression, registering a hyper-empathic, hormonally sensitized response to current affairs and long histories of colonial injustice, this anthology offers “mini-mega narratives” that innovate the personal essay, alongside poetry, short stories, arts criticism, and “juvenilia.” New and previously unpublished pieces sit with others originally commissioned by ArtforumBidoune-flux journalCreative Time Reports, and Serpentine Galleries, among others. “Dear Chip” (Delany), “Dear Kurt” (Cobain), and “Dear Britney (Axis Mundi)” (Spears) are exemplars of the anti-exemplary, fan-fiction genre. 

Sophia Al-Maria is an artist and writer living in London. She is contributing editor of Bidoun, and guest editor of The Happy Hypocrite – Fresh Hell, issue 8 (Book Works, 2015). Al-Maria’s memoir, The Girl Who Fell to Earth (Harper Perennial, 2012), was translated into Arabic and published by Bloomsbury Qatar in 2015. In 2016 Al-Maria presented Black Friday, her first US solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and was nominated for Film London’s Jarman Award. In 2018, Al-Maria exhibited ilysm at Project Native Informant, London, and was Whitechapel Gallery’s Writer in Residence—her exhibition BCE (Whitechapel Gallery, January–April 2019), draws on a year of performances and readings presented with Victoria Sin. Forthcoming exhibitions include Tate Britain, London (2019), and Julia Stoschek Collection, Dusseldorf (2020).

Michael C. Vazquez is a writer and Senior Editor of Bidoun. Before Bidoun he was the editor of Transition: An International Review, and remains a nonresident fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard.

Sad Sack is supported by The Third Line gallery in Dubai.

Book Works is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England.

For more information, contact

Book launch: Sophia Al-Maria, Sad Sack; in conversation with Michael Vazquez
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