fifteen ways to cross the desert (2017)
  • Lili Zarzycki | London, UK

  • fifteen ways to cross the desert (2017)
  • Lili Zarzycki | London, UK
  • ‘Consider the sublime. Is it possible that I feel this in sharper detail than most? Otherwise it seems impossible that this is not the only thing we talk about. That in lieu of the social we not just walk into the sea, sinking down to black and bleeding thick iron-blue’

    fifteen ways to cross the desert comes out of Donald Judd’s 15 untitled works in concrete in Marfa, Texas. The text is structured by the fifteen configurations that format the artwork’s sixty concrete blocks. It is broken into fifteen parts, each of which take a different approach to a critique of the artwork, with the tone, format and length of each section dictated by a response to the configuration. 

    This repetition in the artwork is mirrored in the text by stylistic echoes, or more literal echoes in the repetition of a phrase or rhythm of the text. The idea of multiple approaches comes from an idea of Sara Ahmed’s in Queer Phenomenology, where she describes an active inhabitation of a queer body as a process of orientation and relegation, tending towards queer objects in lieu of following a straight path: against our efforts we are ‘pressed into lines,’ to reproduce the lines that brought about our conception, or into a societal expectation of what a queer narrative should look like. She relates the straying from these lines to the production of landscape architecture’s desire lines, acts of deviation which have left their own lines. A series of these deviations generates a queer landscape, creating new textures on the ground. 

    I became fixated with this idea of a textured ground, that in writing as much as in bodily orientation one could perform multiple crossings of the physical, theoretical and philosophical ‘ground’ – in allowing each of the fifteen subjective splits to run their course, the act of writing itself also performed a necessary act of self-critical disentanglement, in which autobiographical fragments were examined and unfurled without a predetermined conclusion.  


    Lili is a writer. In 2017 she completed the Site-Writing module as part of the MA Architectural History programme at the Bartlett, then co-curating a travelling exhibition of site-writing that was hosted at sites in London, Folkestone, and Newcastle. Since 2018 she has been with the editorial team of The Architectural Review. 


    For me, site-writing blew open the bounds of disciplinary practice, allowing me to delve into the site of writing itself as an intensely rich and inherently productive space from which narratives can unfold. My practice now seeks to remain resiliently indeterminate, slipping between architectural criticism, prose and poetry in an attempt to evade categorisation.

    art, minimalism, feminist, other, split, subjectivity


    Donald Judd, 15 untitled works in concrete, (1980–84) Marfa, Texas

    Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology, London & Durham, 2006.

    Other projects
  • Signal/Noise: Ambient Text in the Urban Landscape (ongoing project)
  • Site Stories: explorations of urban spaces through drawing and animation (25–29 April 2022)
  • Rainbow Palace, Bergen, Norway (March 2022)
  •  Acanthus, (March 2022)
  • Unter der Hohen Brücke. 
digging in a ditch, writing for a place 
  • ‘Reading-writing alongside HALL08,’ HALL08 (2021)
  • Nothingness Beyond Blossom (2021)
  • Angelo Ciccaglione, ‘The back of the dust-machine, where the visitors pour the dust in,’ Rotterdam (2021)
    The Deposition of Dust (July 2021)
  • Skye Edge (April 2021)
  • Corvid-19 (15 March 2021)
  • 1_5
    Glòries_(Eixample). A dispositive for very slow aesthetic observation, (January 2021 –)
  • As Lightning to the Children Eased (January 2021)
  • Station F (October 2020)
  • It’s Just a Matter of Time (2020)
  • 1
    Inscription: the Journal of Material Text – Theory, Practice, History,
    issue # 1: ‘beginnings,’ (2020)
  • Homekeeping-image_sml
    Homekeeping (2020)
  • City Embers (2020)
  • Between Our Words I will Trace Your Presence (February 2020)
  • What Remains (2019)
  • Situated Writing as Theory and Method (2019)
  • Parts Apart Read Together (2019)
  • Fields of Awareness, (2019, 3min 18 secs)
  • A Non-Aligned Narrative in and Around KSEVT, (2019)
  • 21 Orientations: An Atlas of Geographic Promiscuity (2019)
  • The Windowless Hotel Room (2018)
  • Spaces of Grief (2018)
  • Soft Landing (2018)
  • Shared Remains (April 2018)
  • Poetic Water Boundaries: towards a possible borderless sea, (2018)
  • Metropolitan Salem, Liuerpul (9 June – 18 August 2018)
  • Things Come Apart (21 – 24 March 2018)
  • Learn to Read Differently (2018)
  • Il Balcone. A site-writing performance (2018)
  • History begins with the vanity of kings (2018)
  • Dear Mr. Jung: Inhabiting Carl Jung’s ‘The Red Book’ (May 2018)
  • A Lunar Perspective, (2018-2020)
  • Heaton Hall: A Palimpsest (2017)
  • Location (+) (2017)
  • There’s Sand in My Infinity Pool (2017)
  • Talking Quilts (April 2017)
  • fifteen ways to cross the desert (2017)
  • Between Landscape and Confinement: Situating the Writings of Mary Wollstonecraft (2017)
  • Agency at the threshold, (2017)
  • A Ficto-Historical Theory of the London Underground (2017)
  • The Glorious Tomb to the Memory of Nothing (2016)
  • The Arrival’s Reader; A Visual Literary Criticism on The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2016)
  • Reading as Art (27 August-19 November 2016)
  • Re: development (London: Silent Grid, 2016)
  • Kjemikerens død [The Death of the Chemist] (23 – 26 May 2016)
  • Kingsland High Street (2016)
  • Foray in a Modern Reserve: An Impounding Portrait of Landuse (2016 – 2018)
  • Fall of the Derwent (2016)
  • Away from Home – Home from Away (April 2016)
  • Penguin Pool (2015)
  • Geography Lessons: Liberian Landmarks 1953-2013 (2015)
  • Women’s Anarchist Nuisance Café (2014)
  • The Writing on the Wall (after Rembrandt) (2014)
  • The Italic I (2014)
  • Designing Architecture as a Performing-Ground (2014)
  • Urban Literacy (2013/2014/2016)
  • The Disappearance: Manfredo Tafuri’s The Sphere and the Labyrinth (April 2013)
  • Folded Ground: Escape from Cape Town (2013)
  • Phantom Railings (2012 – 2017)
  • In The Emptiness Between Them (2012)
  • 10/08/12 (multispecies event) (2012)
  • An Arcades Project (2011)
  • Tideline (2010-2012)
  • The Museum of Breath (2010)
  • Slab (2010)
  • One wound. Two wounds. The body as site for writing (2010)
  • The Fluid Pavement and Other Stories on Growing Old (2006)
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