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Failed States #4

Failed States is an occasional publication that aims to collate and investigate ideas around place, or more specifically: “indeterminate geographies”. Each issue, themed on a particular type of terrain, is a trove of innovative text and image by emerging and established writers, artists, filmmakers, photographers and academics.

In Issue #4:

South is relative — a place we simultaneously travel to and from. In the fourth issue of Failed States, a journal of art and writing on place, we journey from Cork to Cairo to Chile; Margate to Morocco to the Mississippi Delta; Mount Taranaki to the Rio Grande; to South Dakota, the Sandwich Islands and a South London street called Rainbow. Stories include:

  • Altiplano, in which artist Malena Szlam and volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer explore the Atacama Desert.
  • Austral Index, in which Pete Segall catalogues a number of souths from SoHo to Yunnan.
  • Borderlands, in which Joanna Pocock travels along what would be The Wall on the Mexico-United States border.
  • Double False Position, in which Moad Musbahi tells a story of a scholarly Sufi saint braving the waters off the shores of Cape Beddouza.
  • Four car ramps, in which Paolo Patelli documents the building of unsanctioned motorway ramps in Ard El Lewa, Cairo.
  • Land Remains, in which Jake Silby delves into the mythology, Maori origin stories and colonial history of Mount Taranaki.
  • Milton of Vivos, in which Jenny Perlin encounters a man preparing for the apocalypse in a bunker in South Dakota.
  • Night Wind Remembers, in which Donal Mosher returns to North Carolina for his father’s surgery, confronting illness, aging and celluloid fantasies.
  • Portrait of the Artist as a Capitalist Goat, in which Simon EvansTM chronicle life heading south in Brooklyn during lockdown.
  • Rollercoasting, in which Frank Watson traverses the littoral landscape of post-Brexit Kent.
  • Slide Lecture, in which Carlos Kong chances upon European portrayals of the Global South in a box of antique magic lantern slides.
  • South is a Bright Blocked Place, in which Nina Schack Kock has a religious experience when unable to find a monastery in Greece.
  • South is the state of sacrifice, in which Imani Jacqueline Brown surveys the coastal wetlands of Louisiana, bearing witness to the consequences of extractivism.
  • South x South, in which Ibrahim Ahmed makes bricks in Ard El Lewa, Cairo from fabric scraps originating in the textile mills of the Global South.
  • Sundowners, in which Jeremy Atherton Lin reflects on late nights out — in South London, Margate and Bath — while finishing his book Gay Bar.
  • The Land Question: Where the fuck am I supposed to have sex? (extract), in which Eimear Walshe gives an account of two nuns cohabiting in Cork while confronting the complexities of land contestation.
  • This is Happening, in which Andrea Mason details her South East London neighbourhood over two years.
  • Women Hold Up Half The Sky, in which Jasleen Kaur reimagines an archival image of Sikh soldiers performing a gymnastics routine in Waziristan.
  • Plus our recurring Etymology feature, in which Bryony Quinn gets to the roots of the issue’s theme.
Failed States is a publishing project that collates and investigates ideas around place, or more specifically: indeterminate geographies. As a continually evolving mode of research — in its oblique approach to geography, openness to possibility and curiosity as to what discrete responses might collectively reveal — Failed States is endeavouring to imagine, occupy and furnish another kind of space.

186 pgs, 27.5 × 21.5 cm, Softover, 2020,