Our Rimbaud Mask
Author: Anna Vitale
Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse (2018)
Our Rimbaud Mask follows the early publication history of David Wojnarowicz's "Arthur Rimbaud in New York" photographic series in order to show that our identification with Rimbaud, and with any artist, must remain a site of inquiry and curiosity rather than an obvious source of similitude. What forms of identification are sustainable and which ones are destructive? How do we know the difference? This essay draws together archival research, psychoanalytic theory, and impassioned close readings to lay claim to one of the most taboo fantasies staged in the series: suicide. The Rimbaud mask, different from the image of Rimbaud, invites us to become compassionate witnesses to those whose lives feel unsurvivable without assuming the experience can be shared.