The Lost Diagrams of Walter Benjamin

Ma biblotheque 2017
43 visual responses plus essays by Helen Clarke, Sam Dolbear, & Christian A. Wollin. Edited by Helen Clarke & Sharon Kivland


In A Berlin Chronicle Walter Benjamin describes his autobiography as a space to be walked (indeed, it is a labyrinth, with entrances he calls primal acquaintances)

” Walter Benjamin, ‘A Berlin Chronicle’, 1932, in One-Way Street: And Other Writings, trans. by Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter, London: Verso, pp. 293–346.

The contributors to The Lost Diagrams respond to the invitation to accompany Benjamin in reproducing the web of connections of his diagram, which, once lost (he was inconsolable), was never fully redrawn.

I chose to follow Benjamins’s process of drawing a diagram of  his life, in one single attempt.

Sitting at a table I scribbled in my sketchbook the messy web of connections that I could retrace back to my childhood at this particular moment in time, instinctively finding a way to articulate on the page a senses of chronology and a way to separate the dead from the living.

It took no more than 15 mins to do so. Names were popping out as if to their own accord, I was well aware that another day, or other circumstances would probably conjure up a slightly different set of acquaintances.

An image of a younger self confidently aims her bow and arrow at this roadmap of her life not yet lived.


The book was launched at MISS READ: Berlin Art Book Festival (July 2017) at Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
The UK launch was hosted by bookRoom at the Small Publishers Fair (11th Nov. 17) with editor Helen Clarke and contributors Anne-Marie Creamer, Dean Kenning, Mark Riley and Emmanuelle Waeckerlé.

The Lost Diagrams of Walter Benjamin (Ma bibliothéque, 2017) is now in its second edition and is available here