A review of Jeremy Fernando´s latest work, Requiem for the Factory, would, however small, however modest, all too soon, all too easily presuppose and lay claim to the very singularity of reception, of perception, thinking, writing, memory, indeed of truth, that Fernando so vigorously challenges with his polyphonic requiem. In Fernando´s work, contrary to any such simplifications, nothing is lit by a single light and nothing speaks or is encapsulated by a single voice. Not simply because of the many thinkers whose voices are heard and speaking from within Fernando´s writing and together with Fernando – perhaps most notably the voice(s) of Maurice Blanchot, Hélène Cixous, Avital Ronell – but also, and in this regard more importantly, because nothing is ever one single thing, one thing alone, and hence possible to call forth and present univocally. Far from resulting in obscurity or relativism, Requiem draws us closer to the polyvalence of being, of our being(s), and far from being a simple matter of arriving or bringing the reader towards certain fixed conclusions, what Fernando questions and addresses is the way something is brought to appearance, called forth, re-called – quite possibly without ever reaching its destination: “Whenever one sends out a call, a post-card, one never knows where it will end up, whether it will land. When one picks up a call, one never knows where it comes from; what if it were – they are – just voices in my head?” All certainties must here give way to a multiplicity of possibilities and numerous exchanges and conversations – conversations with others and not least the “others” already within ourselves, conversations and exchanges between past selves, present selves and even future selves, between memories, dreams and new constellations in the making. If Requiem therefore hardly transports its readers towards safer and more stable grounds and certainly does not seek to replace fundamental doubts with fundamental answers, it is not because answering per se is deemed impossible, but, I believe, rather because it is the very conditions of the possibility of answering as well as calling, re-calling as well as testifying that is put into question. One single axis, one single direction, one single writing is no longer sufficient to neither describe nor approach these questions. Other axes must be employed as well (and are, as Fernando shows, always already at work) – axes between language and light, between the sayable and the visible, between different forms of writing and different ways of orchestrating. And along all these axes, in the interplay and the in between of these lines, the potentials are seemingly endless, the fabrications ceaseless, the “factory” still, so to speak, very much “alive”. It is first when something has ended this journey and been brought to one of those axes´ extremities, finally chosen side or been brought to choose side, that loss and nothingness become imminent: “What happens when one names another, when one draws them into language – is that the moment in which they disappear?; when they begin slipping away, into nothingness.” If Requiem does mourn such losses, it however also celebrates that which naming cannot kill because it is yet on its way, yet in between determinations, yet, as Gilles Deleuze once said, “outside any external world, hence infinitely closer” – just like this work and book itself is the production of both distances and intimacies between Fernando´s philosophic narrative and polyphonic hymn, and Kenny Png´s multilayered, dreaming photographs – all conversing through Yanyun Chen´s rhythmic and ingenious layout.
Anders Kolle is an art historian, lecturer at the University of Copenhagen, and Ph.D. student at the European Graduate School