On Zak Kitnick’s Untitled (Screens) Published for West Street Gallery, 2010

The stamp blocks external identity from being appropriated.

Kitnick appropriates the stamp and elevates it to the realm of the beautiful through repetition. The stamp seems to have nothing to cover up- it is used for constructive rather than destructive means. In this case, the blank white sheet of paper that serves as the stamp’s substrate is the ostensible object the user would wish to erase- the abyss?

The blank sheet of paper, in having no limit in itself, is pure potentiality, which can only be productively accessed through its denial.

Kitnick creates a new way of preventing theft- through accessing external beauty. Despite our progressive educations telling us otherwise, experience, not science, allows me to say we all share in beauty. This is not a particular beauty, but the specific eternal beauty that destroys the moment while grounding the subject in reality, a reality which is rarely material despite the material means which serve as its gate. Mired in our personae (our “identity”), our masks are shed when our minds access this space. This eternal space cannot be stolen – not by undercover cops, government, or other personae – because no one person can own it. It is God’s space.

The characters present in the stamp point to words without language. Words point to their referent but never become it. Dante:

Per me si va ne la città dolente,
per me si va ne l’etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
fecemi la divina podestate,
la somma sapienza e ‘l primo amore.
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’entrate


Through me the way into the suffering city,
through me the way to the eternal pain,
through me the way that runs among the lost.
Justice urged on my high artificer;
my maker was Divine Authority,
the highest wisdom, and the primal love.
Before me nothing but eternal things
were made, and I endure eternally.
Abandon every hope, who enter here.

“Per me” the stamp declares. The words are the Gates. The difference and similarity of the eternal and the abyss is here. The word which is not a word is both the suffering city and the Ante-Hell. Do the Lost lose themselves or are lost precisely because they are overcome by themselves? Language cannot become the eternal itself. What would be a language after language? The primal love.