A Degenerating Heart; A Degenerating Language

by BJ Panda Bear

Published in 1988 at the height of the Reagan era and set in a near-at-hand dystopic future, author and performance artist Kathy Acker’s Empire of the Senseless envisions Paris in shambles, ravaged by disease and civil unrest. “An elegy for the world of our fathers,” as Acker refers to it, the story centers on two terrorists and sometimes lovers— the paranoid pirate Thivai and the cyborg Abhor—as they move through the city together and apart, leaving carnage and gleeful, erotic destruction in their wake. Here, photographer Bil Brown pays tribute to the influential post-modern novel, now seeing a re-release via Grove Press in celebration of the book’s 30th year, with a photo-essay enlisting friends and contemporaries


Photographer: Bil Brown

Stylist: Shania Feldman

Models: Ariel King, Amy Black, and Sebastian White

Hair & Makeup: Elaina Karras

FX Artist: Rocky Calderon

Photography Assistant: Drew Pluta

Flaunt film directed by Mynxii White