Location Info:

Benrubi Gallery
521 W. 26th St.
New York, NY  10001
212-888-6007
In 1920, Milena Jesenská wrote a letter to Franz Kafka, asking to translate one of his short stories ("The Stoker") into her native Czech. Kafka agreed, and Jesenská's version appeared in the Tribuna soon after, but that did not herald the end of the correspondence between the two writers. Kafka and Jesenská began exchanging increasingly personal and romantic letters at great speed and length; while Jesenská's dispatches have been lost to history, Kafka's have been widely published (including in the collection Letters to Milena) and reveal the writer in all his conflicted, contradictory emotional impulses. Doug Hall uses this material as a springboard for his multimedia show "Letters in the Dark: Franz Kafka and Milena Jesenská," the primary component of which is a two-channel video installation — the first channel projecting images of Kafka's letters, the second imagining the contents of Jesenská's. Interspersed between the writings are shots of liminal spaces (doorways, hallways) suggesting the eternal unknowability of certain elements of this story, as if the act of looking back were like standing on a precipice.

Video still of Milena Jesensk√° courtesy the artist and Benrubi Gallery.

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