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Antonin Artaud: Cahiers de Rodez et d’Ivry

"Artaud’s writing becomes a suspension of the present. Like the notebook, it is the blueprint for an apocalyptic form of expression that has yet to materialise, or, to use the expression that reoccurs throughout his work, is always ‘not yet’ (‘pas encore’)." - Ros Murray

The Cabinet Gallery is hosting the first solo exhibition dedicated to the work of Antonin Artaud staged in the UK. It will focus on very rare notebooks dating from Artaud's arrival at the Rodez mental asylum in 1945, until his death at the Ivry clinic in 1948. The notebooks comprise over 20, 000 pages of images and texts, making them one of his most significant and mysterious bodies of work.

Portraits, names, calculations, glossolalia, sigils, lists of drugs and foods stuffs, formulae, totems, lexicons, anatomies, objects, (boxes, chains and nails), machines and implements of obscure purpose. As for the poems themselves, they are sometimes more akin to sudden bursts of emotion, flashes puncturing the surface of the page with the tip of the pencil, reminiscent of the electro shock treatment Artaud had to endure. The theme of exorcisms, a clear echo to his time at Rodez, reigns sovereign as a way to fashion a new body able to resist incarceration. Literary resistance becomes the only means of regaining control over one's individuality. 

The actor throws his vein of air,

more and more intensely,

more and more ferociously.

In the anatomical convulsions

of the atmosphere,

but what precisely characterises

the syllables thrown in that awful


is that they can’t take

their whole value of puncturing

the whole jouissance of

hoeing, coagulating,


- Excerpt from Cahier 323 

Artaud insisted on the singular status of the notebooks. Along with the majority of his drawings, they were entrusted by Artaud to his close friend, devotee and eventual editor Paule Thévenin. In addition to the 80 notebooks displayed, the exhibition will include further drawings, photographs, manuscripts and transcribed extracts and translations. Additional pieces by, amongst others, Richard Hawkins, Henrik Olesen and Jean-Luc Parant will also be included.

The exhibition will be on between 15 February - 6 April 2019. 

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