Un mal portant / A Sick One

Tlön Projects regularly publishes essays and writings by curators, critics, thinkers and artists on the Index of their website to disseminate knowledge about art and artists’ ideas. In April 2020 they have added a short story by collective artist gerlach en koop to this growing library. The story is available in English and French: A Sick One and Un mal portant respectively.


In 2016, François Aubart and Benjamin Seror invited gerlach en koop to write a text which was to be read in a bar in Toulouse. Les mots bleus the event was called, an edition of which had already taken place in Paris and other editions were to follow in other cities. Texts by a number of artists would be read in various bars across the city. Someone would just start reading aloud, unannounced and unexpected for the majority of the bar’s crowd. A group of listeners would gather and over the course of the evening, ever larger groups would bar-hop around the city.

In 1840, Edgar Allen Poe wrote the short story The Man of the Crowd. A kind of detective story, or rather the bones of a detective story, stripped of all the filler that gives this genre of books its commercially appealing length.

A story like this by Poe would greatly intensify the experience of the urban spaces between the various bars in Toulouse. It would make the walkers susceptible to the fabric of the city, something gerlach en koop were after, and — in a sudden fit of unjustified confidence — they decided to rewrite Poe’s story for Les mots bleus, but from the perspective of the ‘man of the crowd’. A reversal, like a black mirror. Poe’s 19th-century London, which they obviously couldn’t know, would simply be replaced by 21st-century Brussels.