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1952, Prague. Lives in Manchester.

A large number of Marconi Sound Projectors from the 1920s occupy the upper floor of the Tobacco Warehouse. At intervals, they project the sound of a computer using first generation text-to-speech software to read a text. The quotation is from Franz Kafka’s The Castle, perhaps the quintessential text about labyrinthine bureaucracy and its control systems. The short section chosen by Büchler recounts the resentment with which Josef K.’s presence in the village is suffered by the locals. It includes the words of a village landlady: You are not from the Castle, you are not from the village, you aren’t anything. Or rather, unfortunately, you are something, a stranger, a man who isn’t wanted and is in everybody’s way...
The Castle is about the struggle to fit in and its failure. As a book it has, of course, many possible metaphorical readings, but here we can be specific. Booming out through the antique speakers, the text recalls old factory or street propaganda announcements, this one declaring that assimilation is impossible and the stranger will always remain on the outside. In a city of migrants and Byzantine codes of behaviour like İstanbul, it should have a particular resonance.

Charles Esche


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