Nadim AbbasAngela SuMary Lee


Book, 19 x 12.5 cm, 192 p, language: English, publisher: self-published, ISBN:978-988-12778-0-0 .
Materials: Ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2026/263).

Literary synopsis

BERTY is about a serial killer who gave birth of a machine/human hybrid after being raped by a vertical borer in a factory. A literary collage exploring the complex relationships between the machine and the human body, BERTY brings its readers through a fantastical journey through classic texts on the machine and the human condition. Drawing from a wide spectrum of references, from Descartes’ body-machine analogy to Charles Darwin’s biological evolution and Samuel Butler’s evolution of machines; from Goethe’s archetypal plant to Charles Babbage and Alan Turing’s hypothetical machines; the machine in Modern Times vs. Deleuze and Guattari’s desiring machine, and the reduced humans in the dystopian worlds of Fahrenheit 451 and Alphaville; from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein to its modern counterparts: the automaton and artificial intelligence in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner; from Georges Bataille and J. G. Ballard’s fetishism and obsessions with the body, the body horror of David Lynch and David Cronenberg, to Japanese cyberpunk animation classics such as Akira and Ghost in the Shell, and many else besides, this novella celebrates this wide range of body/machine relationships ever conceived by the human imagination in the form of an illustrated science fiction. Merging various writing styles and genres, graphics and images, scribbles and illustrations, BERTY is a piece of conceptual writing engaged in the discourses of body and machine interrelation.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

The novel is part of a wider art project. Revolving around the theme of body/machine relationship, BERTY and the adjunct exhibition ‘IN BERTY WE TRUST!’ attempt to answer some of the questions that arise from the body and machine dualism/dichotomy: Is the machine an extension of the body (prosthetics, assembly line)? Or is the body, that consumes and as a consumable artefact, an extension of the machine? By presenting the novella as a centrepiece of the exhibition, BERTY not only provides a key to understanding Angela's works in the exhibition, but is also an experiment to blur the boundary between visual art and literature.

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