Collaged from language collected using the obscure keyword “Finkl”—obituaries, case histories, old Chicago legends, gossip columns, political speeches and online posts—Forgery is a lyrical essay on industrial and personal dislocation—a strange choreography of urban conquest and collapse—centered on a 130-year-old Chicago steel forge. Founded in 1879 by German immigrant Anton Finkl, A. Finkl & Sons Co. still operates today on Chicago’s Near North Side. Last vestige of an industrial era, the company produces die forgings noisily and with a good deal of dirty emissions alongside one of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods, where spas and plastic surgeons, shops for handmade cosmetics and luxury chocolates extend off one of the busiest commercial corridors in Chicago. Starting from this intersection of forces, the narrator embarks on a walk to the seven forgotten homes of the forge’s founder, on the way meeting settlers, Indians, Bob Fosse and Richard Daley, gangsters, workers, a K-pop girl group, and a cast of other peculiar characters whose fused stories recount the multifarious history of an evolving city. Whether tied up at gunpoint in the garage of a basketball player or floating at the bottom of Lake Michigan, Forgery revels in disorientation. Printed in an edition of 500 with silk screen covers by Crosshair.
“Rather than seeking the kind of political intervention prized by Burroughs, recent cut-ups take the technique in new directions. Amira Hanafi’s Forgery is a profound meditation on the architecture and history of Chicago. Burroughs hopes that the cut-ups might be an escape from the limits of time, and Hanafi’s work takes advantage of this by cutting in historical material with her history of A. Finkl, the founder of a forge in the nineteenth-century Chicago that still operates in the midst of a gentrified near north side. The book cuts-up materials about Finkl’s founder and Hanafi’s journey through the city to forge itself and the founder’s five homes. Just as one walks through a city and the buildings bring with them affects and associations of the times in which they were built, Hanafi’s source material makes present the past, reminding the reader of the city’s hidden and enmeshed dimensions. Indeed, one is strongly reminded of Freud’s attempt to explain the mind through an analogy of an impossibly spectral city where anything ever built would remain simultaneously with new construction. Hanafi offers cut-ups that achieve this sense of simultaneity, and are themselves often very lyrical: ‘While Cabrini Green is slated for demolition, I am loyal only the the language. There is one thing, however, of which I am certain. The buildings disappear, and then you see them again.’ Though there are political interventions in Forgery, especially in its reflection on intellectual property and the process of creation, the overall mood of the book is a far more meditative evocation of the past’s disturbing and total persistence in the present.” — American Book Review
“In this case however, the question is not the production of text, but the production of the city. Or rather the place where these two intersect: in the invisible structure that emerges out of the alliance between the two. This alliance is the stuff of Forgery.” — Lily Robert-Foley