PALMIMPSEST – Judith Russi Kirshner wrote in her article “READ, READ ROSENS,” (Artforum, December, 1990) about lists and Palimpsest in particular. Below is an excerpt:
“…Rosen makes the most of lists, transforming their linear potential so that they simultaneously undercut while they add up. In Palimpsest, 1989, John X and Benedict X begin a list of names, united by the terminating columns of X’s. That includes not only popes but kings and concludes with Malcolm X. The reader is caught up short, first by the impact of the African-American leader’s name, then by the switch from Latin numeral to English letter. There is a kind of inevitability to this sequence that is broken by the politics of that seemingly simple shift. Like a comedian, Rosen fine-tunes her visual timing, judging how long it takes us to read a list and how many lines long a list can be before we lose interest in it. Like a poet, she shapes rhythm, timing, and alignment in a variant historical chronology that is neither ignorant nor overburdened by respect for tradition. Palimpsest is an effective reconstruction of the succession of patriarchal power. To list Malcolm X, for whom X marked his lack of known heritage, as a descendant of church fathers like Leo X, who protected their place in history with Roman numerals, is an inspired filiation that deftly subverts accepted chronologies. Revising and rewriting, Rosen’s list demonstrates that any master narrative is vulnerable…”.