A seminar by Hélène Cixous about displacement, exile, and the relation of art and literature to cities and their destruction


Cities are fateful letters

A gathering at The Drawing Center in celebration of Helene Cixous and Maria Chevska and their new publication Ex-Cities

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Pedagogy
  • Performance
  • Philosophy / Theory

Organizing Institutions

Slought, The Drawing Center

Contributing Institutions

The French Department and La Maison Française of New York University


Aaron Levy, Jean-Michel Rabaté


Katherine Carl

Opens to public





The Drawing Center
35 Wooster St
New York, NY 10013


100% Formal - 0% Informal

I have known for a long time that one does not go anywhere. it is the cities or the countries that come or do not come to you. Cities are fateful letters. They only arrive lost. They only arrive posthumously.

Slought is pleased to announce a special event celebrating Helene Cixous, Maria Chevska, and their new publication "Ex-Cities" on Saturday, October 14, 2006 from 6:00-7:30pm at The Drawing Center in New York City. Presented in collaboration with the Drawing Center and The French Department and La Maison Française of New York University, the event will feature remarks by Avital Ronell, Judith Miller, Eric Prenowitz, Jean-Michel Rabaté, and Aaron Levy, and concluding remarks by Hélène Cixous.

The publication Ex-Cities arises from a shared concern for displacement and exile in the work of Cixous and Chevska. Visual documentation of "Vera's Room," an installation by Chevska in the Slought galleries, is interspersed throughout Cixous' text exploring the relation of art and literature to cities and their destruction. This bilingual publication includes a companion audio CD of the author reading, as well as a foreword by Eric Prenowitz. Preview a digital version of this publication online.

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As an author of fiction, a playwright, a professor, a theorist and a critic, Hélène Cixous (b. 1937 in Oran, Algeria) has been a central figure in the profound reassessment of prevailing intellectual paradigms that has swept through virtually every domain of the humanities since the 1960s. Cixous is Emeritus Professor at the University of Paris 8, where she founded France's first Women's Studies doctoral program in 1974. Her seminar has been co-sponsored by the Collège International de Philosophie since 1984. Recent books in English translation include Veils (with Jacques Derrida; 2001), Selected Plays of Hélène Cixous (2003), Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint (2004), The Writing Notebooks of Hélène Cixous (2004/06), Dream I Tell You (2006), Reveries of the Wild Woman (2006) and The Day I Wasn't There (2006).

Maria Chevska lives in London and is a Professor of Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University. She recently exhibited "Reading Room," an installation with Simon Morley, at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in London (May 2005), and at the Musée d'art et d'histoire Romain Rolland, Clamecy. (2006). She exhibited "Vera's Room" at Slought in October-November 2005.

Ex-Cities takes displacement and exile as its points of departure in exploring the relation of art and literature to cities and their destruction. We can begin to read this meditation by remembering that cities are more than just habitats or geographical entities. They extend beyond networks of communication, commerce, sociality, or politics. Cities often exist in the form of memories and aspirations, and these cities are no less real despite their intangible nature. We always carry with us the memories of the cities that we have lived in or lost, abandoned or destroyed. These memories permit us to rebuild them from their ruins; we build new cities upon the memories of others.

-- Aaron Levy, Introduction to Ex-Cities

Related publications

Poet, playwright and philosopher Hélène Cixous explores the relation of art and literature to cities and their destruction in this bilingual collaboration with artist Maria Chevska and her installation Vera's Room.

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