Elvia Wilk (US)
Residency period: January-March 2024
Born in 1989, Elvia Wilk is an American writer who lives in New York. Her work focuses on ecology, feminism, and the politics of art in an age of climate catastrophe. After numerous collaborations with other artists and researchers, she published her first dystopian fiction novel Oval (2019, Soft Skull Press, shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize), which imagines a pill capable of increasing generosity. Her second book Death by Landscape (2022, Soft Skull Press) features a series of critical and personal essays on the role of literature in the age of extinction.
Contributing editor of the journal e-flux since 2018, Wilk’s essays, reviews, and fiction have appeared in journals such as The New York Review of Books, The Nation, The Atlantic, n+1, The Paris Review, Artforum, Bookforum, BOMB, Frieze, and The White Review. The recipient of an Andy Warhol Arts Writers Grant (2019) and a Berggruen Institute Fellowship (2020) for her texts on ecology, she holds an MA in Liberal Studies from the New School for Social Research, where she has subsequently taught. Wilk has also taught at the New School, the City College of New York, Columbia, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, the Royal Academy of Copenhagen, and Berlin University of the Arts.
During her residency at La Becque, Wilk plans to finish writing her third book, a novel that deals with the way political and ecological changes are registered by the human body. The book, A Diagnosis, takes place in a speculative lockdown scenario, where the characters suffer from unexplained illnesses that appear to be physical manifestations of collective trauma. As they endure isolation, the characters’ perceptions of time are increasingly removed from solar and lunar cycles—reflecting the widespread disruption of circadian rhythms by light pollution, urban density, networked technologies, and social instability. Dealing with the limitations of the medical system to describe somatic experience, Wilk’s new work suggests that human health is integrally dependent on natural ecosystems. The novel questions the tendency to diagnose, pathologize, and medically treat the human condition, rather than addressing the eco-systemic crises that affect our lives. It explores the ways that people creatively push against confinement to forge new ways of being. It is also a love story.
Elvia Wilk, photo Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff