Teju Cole


The amount of particulate matter suspended in a given body of water is indicative of its turbidity. Incident light is scattered to a greater degree under highly turbid conditions. In any troubled body of water, some sediments will eventually settle of their own accord. Other particles, in colloidal form, will remain suspended. In such cases, mechanical or chemical intervention is required to reduce the haziness of the water.

The appeal of Bruegel’s paintings in a time like this has something to do with the paradox they contain. Paintings don’t move. They are soundless. Bruegel’s paintings are rhythmic in composition and often unconcerned with world events. But they take place in a world of concerns, in a loud and agitated world. Hunters in the Snow was completed in 1565, The Blind Leading the Blind in 1568, and during these years, the Spanish Netherlands is falling violently apart.

Turbulence was made in conversation with and in part addressed to, among others, Love is the Message, the Message is Death by Arthur Jafa, Stopover in Dubai and Sans Soleil by Chris Marker, The Mirror and Solaris by Tarkovsky, Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren and Alexander Hamid, Best of Luck with the Wall and Concussion Protocol by Josh Begley, Powaqqatsi by Godfrey Reggio, Fly Paper by Kahlil Joseph, Videograms of a Revolution by Harun Farocki, Floh by Tacita Dean, Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje, The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald, In Defense of the Poor Image by Hito Steyerl, Black and Blur by Fred Moten, and Citizen by Claudia Rankine.

About the artist

Teju Cole is a photographer, novelist, and essayist. In 2013, he and the translator Christine Richter-Nilsson were awarded the Internationaler Literaturpreis for the novel Open City (2011). Cole’s other honors include the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Windham Campbell Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His most recent books are Human Archipelago (2019), a collaboration with the photographer Fazal Sheikh, and Fernweh (2020), a photobook. Cole is currently a Professor of Creative Writing at Harvard University.

Gradient based on live data: Cambridge, MA, . Temperature: -1.1°, Pressure: 1015.9, Humidity: 85.6. Air Quality Index (AQI): co 3.4, no2 16.7, o3 11.2, pm10 7, pm25 22, so2 0.5.