Rice’s Timothy Morton writes a book with award-winning singer Björk

This month the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City opened the doors on a new retrospective exploring singer and artist Björk’s work and her impact on modern culture. Rice’s Timothy Morton, a philosopher and the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English, spent the past year collaborating with Björk on “Björk: Archives” (Thames and Hudson), a book and visual tribute to the enigmatic Icelander.

Credit: Thames and Hudson

Published to coincide with the exhibition, the book is composed of photographs of Björk performing live and dressed in dramatic costumes as well as stills from her music videos, illustrated texts, poetry and album artwork. In addition to Morton, contributors include MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach, critic Alex Ross, musicology professor Nicola Dibben and poet Sjón.

“Björk: Archives” is presented as five individual volumes — four slim, brightly colored staple-bound booklets and one thicker perfect-bound volume — and each one takes a different approach to exploring and understanding Björk’s creative pursuits.

Morton’s volume, “This Huge Sunlit Abyss From The Future Right There Next To You,” comprises an email conversation between Björk and Morton. Björk asked Morton to “help me figure out what ‘ism’ I am,” and a three-month collaboration ensued, featuring in-depth discussions of art, religion, philosophy, politics and, of course, music. Morton thinks that New Musical Express describes Morton’s volume well as “a wild, wonderful conversation full of epiphanies and sympathies, incorporating Michael Jackson, daft goths and the vibration of subatomic particles in its dizzying leaps, alive with the thrill of falling in love with someone’s brain.”

Björk, who initially became known as the lead singer of the alternative rock band The Sugarcubes in the mid-1980s, has won four Brit awards, four MTV Video Music awards and has been nominated for 14 Grammy awards, one Academy Award and two Golden Globe awards.

MoMA’s “Björk” exhibition will be on display through June 7. For more information, visit www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1501.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.