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Price: $50.00

Claire Huot

Claire Huot is a scholar specializing in Chinese studies. She has written two books on contemporary Chinese culture, La Petite révolution culturelle (Éditions Philippe Picquier), and China’s New Cultural Scene: A Handbook of Changes (Duke...

Robert Majzels

Robert Majzels’s books include Hellman’s Scrapbook, City of Forgetting, Apikoros Sleuth, and The Humbugs Diet. In 2007, he was awarded the Alcuin Society Prize for Excellence in Book Design for the limited edition of

Bada Shanren (85)

Claire Huot

Robert Majzels

1 of 5 book set, 85
Binding: Hardcover, Anstey Bookbinding
Edition Size: 200  |  Pages: 22 [accordion]
Size: 8.75 x 3.25
Visual Poetry | $50.00
ISBN 987-1-934254-43-1

Original page designs by Robert Majzels
85 set box designed and manufactured by Nathan Tremblay

Published simultaneously in Canada by Moveable Inc.

View the full 85 set here.

A member of the imperial Ming family, Bada Shanren survived the fall of that dynasty to the Manchu in 1644 and, rather than submit to the new regime, he retreated into a life of poverty as a monk and hermit. In Bada Shanren, Robert Majzels and Claire Huot present the reader with vibrant new translations of the poet-artist’s inscriptions, which appear in his ink-brush paintings of small, seemingly inconsequential creatures and plants: mynah birds, globefish, the muddy roots of lotus. These inscriptions are complex, replete with allusions, and resistant to interpretation—and therefore fit perfectly with the aesthetic of 85. The design of the work imitates this aesthetic: it is open, borderless, and mirrors the washed out greys of the artist’s brush. Like Bada Shanren, these poems resist signification, enacting his unflinching rejection of injustice and abuse of power, combined with a self-deprecatory and self-effacing subjectivity.  These 85s respond to the plasticity of Bada Shanren’s works, which, more than those of any other Chinese artist, render the tensions and points of contact between poetry, painting and calligraphy.

As with the four other limited edition volumes of 85, Bada Shanren is printed on Lynx Opaque, an acid-free paper with superior longevity. Hardcover, with accordion fold binding and exquisitely embossed and foil stamped titles, it is a work of visual text-art in its own right, the minimalism and beauty of its material form complementing and illuminating the radical act of poetic exploration that the volume contains.

About the 85 set

What happens when we come face to face with the Other? Do we consume the other culture and come away unchanged, or do we allow our language, culture, and selves to be transformed, stretched to include new forms and meanings? The answer depends on our willingness to do the hard work of reading. 85 is a poetic exploration into the way one language and culture—in this case English—perceives and receives another—in this case Chinese. The work is grounded in a radical translational approach based on contemporary philosophical theories that return to the Judaic roots of Western civilization. This approach to the world, the self, and the Other is open-ended, nonlinear, and materialist—a practice evoked by the visual layout of the texts, which enacts the difficult negotiation of the reception in English of Chinese poetic works.