hc(X)change: 10 years of creating community with harlequin creature

April 12 – May 8, 2022

extended to May 24th

Blackburn 20|20 Gallery

harlequin creature was been operating as a micro-press since 2011. over the past ten years, it has put out hand-made periodical publications, chapbooks, broadsides, and mail art, and hosted an online translation platform. from april 12 – may 8, 2022 an exhibition at the Blackburn 20|20 gallery in manhattan puts on display a decade of collective work. hc editors have experimented with different printing and binding techniques over the years, working in close collaboration with contributing authors, artists, and musicians to create editions that showcase with care and individual consideration the text, image, and sound published in each volume. 

hc(X)change is on one hand a retrospective of a press that has ceased operations, but on the other, it marks the official launch of the most current publication. hcx is the tenth and final issue of the arts and literary journal with which harlequin creature began, and includes eight unique print projects that come together in an individually hand-painted box. related programming offered by several contributors to hcx is an integral component of the current exhibition

whether or not you can visit the exhibition in person, you can learn more about hc’s many publications and their editors and contributors by following these links:

arts & literary journal


social justice series


online translation platform

dispatchwork: mail art collective

typewriters to kids

hc(X)change was conceived and curated by 

Essye Klempner & meghan forbes

with essential installation assistance from Joana O’Leary

and the help of Chloe diBlassio

special thanks to Sherese Francis for the exhibition title

pneumatique, prajna desai and ian mcLellan davis

A prose-poem combining translation and erasure, pneumatique (2021) springs from correspondence, written exclusively in French, and exchanged in 1963 between two architects, Eulie Chowdhury, an ambitious, young Indian architect, and Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French master of modern architectural design. Both were more than acquainted with each other during the lifetime of a unique historical episode in the history of twentieth century architecture. Chowdhury was Le Corbusier’s right arm in the team responsible for the planning, design, and execution of the new architecture of Chandigarh (1951-65) in north India.

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Translating Dubravka Ugrešić’s The Red School, Vladislav Beronja

The word translation comes from Latin, meaning “to carry across.” Let’s first dwell on the verb “carry.” It suggests that one should be careful and not spill, break, shatter, whatever object one is transporting from one shore to the other. Here the cargo is especially precious to me. Ugrešić has been one of my favorite writers ever since I picked up The Museum of Unconditional Surrender, her 1997 novel that uses Berlin’s scarred cityscape as a meditation on war, memory, and loss. Taking the form of an émigré’s suitcase, the novel is also filled with verbal photographs—transportable, fragile memories of an interrupted life and a former homeland (Yugoslavia). It was the Croatian original that had left a primal scar on me, a mark of both its beauty and power, but I have since read and reread Celia Hawkesworth’s English translation and been deeply seared by it. Other originals and translations followed. The Ministry of Pain in Michael Henry Heim’s polyphonic improvisation—a novel about masochistic attachments to loss and the anodyne power of forgetting; Baba Yaga Laid an Egg in Ellen Elias-Bursać’s spirited rendition—a feminist reworking of gendered archetypes in Slavic mythology and folklore; and David Williams and Elias-Bursać’s transposition of Ugrešić’s wily Fox—a book of multiple, defiantly female self-portraits nested inside one another like Matryoshka dolls. Her collections of essays are no less precious, intricate, architectural: The Culture of Lies, Thank You for Not Reading, American Fictionary, Nobody’s Home, Karaoke Culture, Europe in Sepia, and the most recent, The Age of Skin. In all these works, Ugrešić has distilled so much history, so many cultural references, so much feeling and reflection into a miniature object—a printed book. To read Ugrešić is to commune with a sensitive, playful, deeply intentional consciousness compacted into the space of a bookshelf; to trace the routes of her peregrinations through Berlin, Zagreb, Amsterdam, New York, Moscow, Naples and Tokyo; and to partake in her melancholy reflections on the detritus of history left in the wake of “progress.” So, when Dubravka had agreed to collaborate on the last issue of harlequin creature with her multimedia work, The Red School, Meghan and I were overjoyed. This is a writer we both cherish with a project that fit perfectly into harlequin creature’s commitment to women writers and artists, to translation as cultural labor, and to sophisticated combinations of image and word that, in this case, recalled the history of experimental and bespoke bookmaking. It also offered an exciting challenge to us as printers. We were already doing the work of translation in our heads. But taking on this role, in more sense than one, was also daunting. How do we carry this precious object across different languages and forms? What if something spills on the way, shatters and loses its essence?

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announcing : hcx

we are delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of hcx — the 10th number in the hand-made journal that launched harlequin creature 10 years ago. this will also be our last publication. hcx includes contributions from 10 poets, artists, & musicians. eight unique print projects will come together in a single encasement in an edition of 100 copies.

read contributor bios below, and pre-order a copy by clicking here. by purchasing your copy now, you help us to cover production costs, and reserve your own limited edition copy! 

hcx editorial is ian mclellan davis, meghan forbes, sherese francis, hannah pröbsting

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