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Paul Scheerbart (18631915) was a visionary German novelist, theorist, poet, and artist who made a lasting impression on such icons of modernism as Walter Benjamin, Bruno Taut, and Walter Gropius. Fascinated with the potential of glass architecture, Scheerbartrs"s satirical fantasies envisioned an electrified future, a world composed entirely of crystalline, colored glass. In 1912, Scheerbart publishedThe Light Club of Batavia, aNovelleabout the formation of a club dedicated to building a spa for bathing-not in water, but in light-at the bottom of an abandoned mineshaft. Translated here into English for the first time, this rare story serves as a point of departure for Josiah McElheny, who, with an esteemed group of collaborators, offers a fascinating array of responses to this enigmatic work. The Light Clubmakes clear that the themes of utopian hope, desire, and madness in Scheerbartrs"s tale represent a part of modernismrs"s lost project: a world based on political and spiritual ideals rather than efficiency and logic. In his compelling introduction, McElheny describes Scheerbartrs"s life as well as his own enchantment with the writer, and he explains the ways in whichThe Light Club of Bataviainspired him to produce art of uncommon breadth.The Light Clubalso features inspired writings from Gregg Bordowitz and Ulrike Muuml;ller, Andrea Geyer, and Branden W. Joseph, as well as translations of original texts by and about Scheerbart. A unique response by one visionary artist to another,The Light Clubis an unforgettable examination of what it might mean to see radical potential in absolute illumination.
Josiah McElheny is a New York–based contemporary artist, performance artist, and filmmaker best known for his use of glass with other materials. He has written for such publications as Artforum and Cabinet, is a contributing editor to BOMB, and was a 2006 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.