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Wednesday, Nov 11 2009
In metafiction, the letter E is forever linked to Georges Perec, who wrote a whole novel without using it. Few notice the missing letter — “Noon rings out. A wasp, making an ominous sound, a sound akin to a klaxon or a tocsin, flits about.” See? Artist Justin Quinn, however, has taken the inverse, flipped-universe tack, creating a work using nothing but the letter E. We like to think he used the very letters that Perec left scattered around his house, but he probably didn’t: Perec’s Es are circa-1969 French Es and Quinn needed circa-1851 English Es. He needed those, because that is what you use when you translate Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick into the letter E. Quinn is a visual artist, so his translation is not bound into a 1,000-page book that would make your eyes crumble, but is rather spread elegantly across canvases in "Keep Out This Frost." The exhibit features whole seas of Es, some corralled into lines, others curling and flowing like gusts of wind, whale-tossed waves, schools of squid, and wormy aquatic beasties squirming on an oil-splotched deck (like those in Chapter 35, we think). We don’t know how accurate he is — we don’t speak E — but even if he never read the original, it’s still a beautiful translation.

An opening reception for "Keep Out This Frost" starts at 6 p.m. on Nov. 19
Nov. 19-Dec. 23, 2009

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Michael Leaverton


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