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Machines à Penser is an exhibition at the Fondazione Prada’s Ca Corner, in Venice, which “focuses on three major philosophers of the 20th century: Theodor W. Adorno, Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein… and the conditions of exile, escape and retreat and physical or mental places which favor reflection, thought and intellectual production.”

Curated by Dieter Roelstraete, it brought together artists who have reflected on these philosophers’ spaces of solitary production, as well as ersatz reconstructions of Heidegger and Wittgenstein’s huts.

A book accompanied the show. Designed by Will Holder, it contains essays by Roelstraete and Mark Riley; conversations with Goshka Macuga, Leonor Antunes and Alexander Kluge; and excerpts from the philosophers’ works.

I was asked to write about the history of the “primitive hut,” its antecedents and after-effects. My essay sweeps across time, from the Desert Mothers and Fathers to a Muji cabin available to order online. The full illustrated text is here. Throughout, the question remains, “why does this archetype return, again and again?” And what does it say about the fantasy of thinking?”

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