Between Folds / Encyclopaedia Britannica

Material: Encyclopaedia Britannica; 1797 - Third edition.
202 x 158cm.
2010

As ‘A’ begins the alphabet, so does it begin the encyclopaedia, our documentation and ordering of the world; here, only in its third edition. Gathering by letter, each book of an encyclopaedia groups seemingly random things together – encouraging discovery that is free of any regiment of subject or specialism. A is for anatomy, agrimonia (a genus of flowering plants), ague (a shivering illness), the places Anatolia and Agria and the Anglo-Saxon Latin poet Aldhelm; and here we are not only explorers of ‘a’, but of the past – of 1797 knowledge and language. These are not only forgotten pages, but words lost in time, with mixt tafte and maffive walls – ‘f’ used instead of ‘s’. Traces of inquisitive generations surround the text, in each thumbed edge, stain and even the hand-inked notes of a previous owner. With over 300 years between the binding of its pages and our present day, this book becomes an untold story of survival itself; fact has become history and it is the last, no longer the first, having lost its concluding companions.