Robert Majzels & Claire Huot - 105 pages

Created by Claire Huot and Robert Majzels, the 85 project consists of five stunning volumes that are simultaneously art objects, radical translations, and powerful works of visual poetry.

In a series of creative cross-cultural encounters, these writer-translators take passages from a variety of texts and transform them into 85-letter blocks of text. These letters, presented without space breaks or punctuation, float in elegant geometric columns on the variously colored pages, demanding the reader’s active engagement as she organizes and reorganizes them into constantly fluctuating combinations of meaning. The 85 project uses visual media and avant-garde techniques to explore the border between translation and original creation. The aim is to apply a non-mastering ethical view of the translator’s task: “rather than reducing the foreign text to dominant cultural values in English,” the translator seeks to achieve “an ethnodeviant pressure on those values to register the linguistic and cultural differences of the foreign text” (Venuti, The Invisibility of the Translator). Majzels and Huot’s approach is open-ended, nonlinear, and materialist—a practice evoked by the visual layout of the texts, which enacts the difficult negotiation in English of Chinese poetic works. Read a more detailed description of the 85 project.

Produced in a limited edition of 200, The 85 project is printed on Lynx Opaque acid-free paper with an accordion fold. Bound individually in hard covers with embossed and foil stamped titles, each volume is a work of visual text-art in its own right. Complete sets come in a specially made, frosted silicone case by Nathan Tremblay.

Claire Huot holds a doctorate in Chinese Studies and was a professor of Chinese language and culture, and Comparative Literature. She also served as the Cultural Counselor at the Canadian Embassy to the People’s Republic of China in Beijing. She is the author of two books on contemporary Chinese culture — including China New Cultural Scene: A Handbook of Changes, Duke University Press, 2000 — and a novel The Prison Tangram.

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TANG DYNASTY re-translates works by canonical Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) figures such as Li Bai, Wang Wei, and Du Fu, approximating the limitation of 20 words in the original Chinese poetic form, the jueju or “perfected sentence.”

BADA SHANREN presents the reader with vibrant new translations of the poet-artist, Bada Shanren’s inscriptions, which appear in his ink-brush paintings of small, seemingly inconsequential creatures and plants: mynah birds, globefish, the muddy roots of lotus.

XUE TAO translates 17 out of 100 surviving poems of the female Chinese poet, Xue Tao (768-831), whittling their already sparse, minimalistic imagery into a highly individual voice of banishment on the edge of language.

MAO ZEDONG newly translates passages from the Quotations from Chairman Mao, better known in the West as “The Little Red Book,” reproducing aslant those hyperbolic quotations rich in imagery and replete with numbers that are so deeply imbedded in China’s collective memory.

 SONG OF SONGS presents the materiality and semantic multiplicity of the Torah’s most poetic and erotically charged book, transforming the language of the original into a tangible, material substance.

CAD $200.00 / Set of 5 Books
TANG DYNASTY – Hard copy
CAD $45.00 / Book
CAD $20.00 / Download
BADA SHANREN – Hard copy
CAD $45.00 / Book
CAD $20.00 / Download
XUE TAO – Hard copy
CAD $45.00 / Book
CAD $20.00 / Download
MAO ZEDONG – Hard copy
CAD $45.00 / Book
CAD $20.00 / Download
SONG OF SONGS – Hard copy
CAD $45.00 / Book
CAD $20.00 / Download


"We cannot encounter the 85’s simply as readers; the works themselves demand that we engage and participate in their coming into being and, through this participation, experience the disjunct and the uncomfortable, yet productive, confrontation with another language and culture".

---Oana Avasilichioaei. “Transposing 85.” Jacket 2 (2011)