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William Shakespeare × Chris Ofili: Othello

By (artist) Chris Ofili / Foreword by Fred Moten

Othello remains one of Shakespeare's most contemporary and moving plays, with its emphasis on race, revenge, murder, and lost love. Chris Ofili’s new edition highlight’s the tragedy of Othello’s plight in ways no other volume of this play has.

In twelve etchings Ofili has produced to illustrate this play, Othello is depicted with tears in his eyes, which flow below various scenes visualized in his forehead. Ofili asks us to see in Othello the great injustices that still plague the world today. These images add feeling to Shakespeare’s words, and together they form their own hybrid object—something between a book and a visual retelling of the tragedy. With a foreword by the renowned critic Fred Moten, this edition is the first of its kind and puts Othello’s blackness and interiority front and center, forcing us to confront the complex world that ultimately dooms him.

The first play in the Seeing Shakespeare Series, Othello is illustrated by English contemporary artist Chris Ofili. Future titles in the series include A Midsummer Night’s Dream illustrated by Marcel Dzama and The Merchant of Venice with images by Jordan Wolfson.

“Read this: Shakespeare, for Art Lovers… ‘Othello,’ has etchings by the British artist Chris Ofili, who took on the loaded challenge of depicting the title character, confronting what the poet and scholar Fred Moten describes in his introduction as ‘white fantasies of blackness.’”

– Kate Guadagnino, The New York Times

“Artist Chris Ofili created 12 etchings to illustrate Othello, giving new depth to Shakespeare’s tragic play. The book includes a foreword by poet and critic Fred Moten and reconsiders the story of Othello in relation to contemporary social injustices.”

– The Editors, New York Magazine: The Strategist

“In his beautiful white-on-black images, Ofili traces Othello’s moods and thoughts, zooming in on the stunning – and sometimes overwhelming – power of the mind.”

– Monocle

“Ofili’s portraits of Othello, which somehow incorporate both performative enactment and nonperformative refusal, might open up new pathways in the history of Othello’s portrayal.”

– Fred Moten, The Paris Review

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