Towers of Babble

Towers of Babble, 2012-15. Porcelain.

Most of these towers incorporate words lifted from a story written by Franz Kafka in 1917 called The Great Wall (Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer). The narrator of The Great Wall is a scholar who claims to have helped build the Great Wall. Faced with the problem of how to explain that it was built in fragments and not in one long stretch, he dismisses the idea that it was meant to be the foundation for a new Tower of Babel. It's important to try and understand the orders issued by the High Command in charge of organizing construction, but only up to a certain point, after which it is wiser to stop worrying about it. The story contains the famous passage known as A Message from the Emperor, after which the narrator speaks of a collective failure of the imagination regarding the Emperor and declares that to continue with his analysis would be to shake the foundations on which the nation stands - at which point the story ends, as if to demonstrate when to stop thinking.

Towers of Babble, detail