Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drawing Inspiration from Perec

Georges Perec's novella "The Exeter Text: Jewels, Secrets, Sex" (included in Three by Perec, Godine 2004) uses only the vowel "e" and no others (honest). It is known as a complement or reciprocal to A Void (Godine, 2005) which avoids all and any words containing the commonest letter in the alphabet—(you guessed it) "e." Why would Perec constrain his writing in this way? Well, Perec was never one to turn down a challenge but also he was a member of OuLiPo, a group of writers and mathematicians concerned with the literary potential of formal constraints or "writing with rules." With A Void and "The Exeter Text," Perec had become the acknowledged champion of writing under the hardest of rules.

Illustrator Katja Spitzer has taken inspiration from "The Exeter Text" with her new book, Quodlibet (Nobrow Press), which features her illustrations of a host of different words, phrases, and names all beginning with the letter "q" and is written by Sebastian Gievert. According to Design Week (UK) "she chose to focus on Q because in her native German—as in English—Q is a peculiar and rarely used letter." Featured in the book are "cult Hollywood directors, 18th-century dances, ancient Chinese mythical beasts and French poets of the last century."If you're in London, the Quodlibet exhibition at The Book Club (London EC2) will take place from Oct 27th–Jan 2012.

Here are a couple examples of Spitzer's work from Quodlibet:

Quarterhorse: A horse of a small, stocky breed noted for agility and
speed over short distances, especially a quarter of a mile.

Queen Alexandra and a Bird's Wing

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