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Untitled Text

by Etel Adnan



Untitled Text is an unpublished work from renowned artist and poet Etel Adnan. Incorporating grammatical signs and words, Untitled Text is a poem that reflects the tumult of the world today through the use of grandiose, gargantuan, all-consuming interplanetary and nature imagery, leaving a surreal, almost psychedelic impression on the reader. First saved in the word processing software Textedit, Untitled Text retains the draft quality of the piece as Etel intended.

Echoes of the “shape-centric” nature of concrete poetry abound in Adnan's Untitled Text, as well as Jenny Holzer's declarative poster series Truisms & Inflammatory Essays and Louise Bourgeois' text-filled fabric pieces, lithographs, screen prints, and reliefs. Riven with dark humor, Adnan’s piece is a prescient portrait of our fragile world.

This work is part of the series Files, available exclusively on Badlands’s website. Artists in the 21st century have a multitude of technological options for creating artworks. Using a computer, artists now print paintings, extrude sculptures from plastic compounds, even automate entire performances from a laptop. But whatever the form the work finally takes, it was first and foremost a file—a computer file that the artist created in order to control and direct the devices at her disposal. Artists using technology are all, in this regard, filemakers.

A file is the work before the work. It is the “score” that directs the printer, or projector, or speaker to create the form of expression we experience. And as such, artist files hold immense value and potential in contemporary culture. They are works in their own right that illuminate the sensibilities and ideas of some of the most compelling artists working today.

Each file is created by the artist and is saved as a document derived from the originating software that the artist used to create the file and subsequent work. As an essential element of the final work, the file is unique in how it manifests the “spirit” of what the work ends up becoming.

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Date Unknown

TextEdit file

952 Bytes

Downloaded as a specially designed disk image installer (.dmg). Recommended for Apple computers.


Etel Adnan

Etel Adnan is a poet, essayist and visual artist born in 1925 in Beirut, Lebanon. Since the 1960s, Adnan has been making accordion-fold books, or leporellos, that meld visual and verbal observation, fusing the artist’s parallel practices in painting and writing as she transcribes poems and records unfolding landscapes and urban spaces. These books exemplify the wide-ranging, nomadic character of Adnan’s life and work: best known as a poet, she studied philosophy in Paris at the Sorbonne, Harvard University and University of California at Berkeley. Her writing explores the political and personal dimensions of violence—particularly in response to Lebanon’s civil war—and articulates her experience of exile from familiar landscapes and languages. She is the author of numerous books of prose and poetry including the novel Sitt Marie Rose (1978).

Adnan’s artworks feature in numerous collections, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Mathaf, Doha, Qatar; Royal Jordanian Museum; Tunis Modern Art Museum; Sursock Museum, Beirut; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; British Museum, London; World Bank Collection, Washington D.C.; National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. In 2014, Adnan was awarded France's highest cultural honour, the Ordre de Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. She was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and had a solo exhibition at Serpentine Galleries in 2016.

She lives and works in Sausalito, CA and Paris, France.