Translation of an immense, unfinished project by critical theorist Walter Benjamin, a key Frankfurt School thinker who died in 1940. The Arcades project was Benjamin’s Gesamtkunstwerk—an attempt to create a picture of contempraneity and its relationship to the past. This was an experiment in the highest form of critical cultural analysis, in which Benjamin took seriously the urban fabric of Paris and Berlin, everyday objects, and elements of mass culture as tools to unveil the operations of ideology and the mechanisms of the then rapidly-developing capitalist consumer society. Probably the most famous example of philosophical work relating to the archive, the ‘fragments’ (konvoluts) that Benjamin wrote over 13 years make up over 1000 pages. Benjamin’s work has been influential for a lot of contemporary art production and criticism, and had a particular heyday in the 1990s kicked off by the publication Susan Buck-Morss’s Dialectics of Seeing (1989), which attempted to sketch a possible interpretation of the unfinished (and then still untranslated Arcades work) and finally with the long-delayed appearance of the English translation of the Arcades in 1999.