Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön

Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön

About the project
»If our foresight is not mistaken, a hundred years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the Second Encyclopaedia of Tlön«, Jorge Luis Borges wrote 1941 in the epilogue to his tale »Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius«. More than 50 years later his text was animation and source of inspiration for a project that we understood as the attempt to reconstruct the Second Encyclopaedia of Tlön. Within ten years (1997– 2006) we have published fifty volumes. We saw the compilation of the right keywords (there is only one keyword per volume) and their interconnection as an important prerequisite for success. It should not be a patchwork of arbitrary keywords but a coherent work committed to the spirit of Tlön. Right from the beginning there were lists with suggested keywords. They were constantly changing, new ones were added, old ones discarded. Sub-groups were formed: flora and fauna, the three primary colors, the four elements, the title of Borges’ story: Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. The more the project progressed, the more difficult it became to decide on the right keywords. If at the beginning we could still choose those that seemed the most interesting at the time from a great pool of keywords, as time went on we had to make sure to choose words missing in the completion of the whole picture. Because our system of order was the alphabet, we of course wanted all letters to be represented in the end. We did realize that we could only do justice to our presumptuous ambition of packing the whole world into fifty volumes in details and fragments; but we hoped the found shards would give a notion of the whole structure. Borges’ story, which we owed the encyclopedia’s title to, played an important role as a source of inspiration, but we could present the idealistic world of Tlön only mirrored on our own world. Already in the first volumes quotes from Borges’ had sporadically flowed in. But only after some years did we realize that, in the meantime, a substantial part of the Tlön-text, distributed over the various volumes, had found its way into the encyclopedia, and we then decided to gradually incorporate the complete text in the encyclopedia; like a red thread, so to speak, that winds its way through the project in intricate paths. Because we had used, besides a German translation, also the Spanish original as well as an English and a French translation right from the beginning, the text in the encyclopedia is now multi-lingual, many-voiced, in part not recognizable at first sight (e.g. on the black endpaper of the ZEIT volume). Just like Borges’ text had written itself into the project almost on its own, and at the beginning not even intended by us, so the project has also influenced and changed its makers. The work on the encyclopedia over the years has not gone by our work methods without leaving a trace. Thinking and working in an encyclopedic context has become familiar to us and has flowed into the way we work. On the other hand, of course our life circumstances and locations, our travels (real and fictitious) are all reflected in the project: people and books that influenced us. During the work on the project we have tried to be exhaustive, complex, all-encompassing, encyclopedic; all within our means. Now the fifty volumes lie before us, and we see they are actually only a tiny part of a huge ice-berg that is really a book-berg. Most of it we cannot see because it is below the surface, but we are aware of its existence. We see the project connected to a multitude of other books and are happy that, by the incorporation into public collections, it is now literally close to an enormous number of other books.

The fifty volumes are published in an edition of forty numbered and signed copies. They all have a unified format of 12,5 by 20 cm and are handbound. The spine thickness varies according to the bulk of the volume. The entire block of all fifty volumes has a length of ca. 63 cm. The covers are of various materials (cloth, paper; printed or unprinted), but all within a range of light to dark gray. Each volume carries a spine label, printed with the first four letters of its keyword. The encyclopedia can be purchased to only in its entirety and it costs 15.000,— Euro.


Public collections
Bibliotheca Librorum apud Artificem, Sydney
Bibliothèque Municipale, Saint-Quentin/France
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg
Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum, Leipzig/Germany
Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, Frankfurt/Germany
Harvard University, Fine Arts Library, Cambridge/Massachusetts
Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel/Germany
Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Weimar
Indiana University, Lilly Library, Bloomington/Indiana
Jack Ginsberg Collection of Book Arts, Johannesburg/South Africa
Klingspor Museum, Offenbach/Germany
Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt/Germany
Museum Meermanno, The Hague/Netherlands
Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek, Hannover/Germany
National Library of Austria, Vienna
Princeton University Library, Princeton/New Jersey
Public Library, George Arents Collection, New York City
Reed College Library, Portland/Oregon
Rheinische Landesbibliothek, Koblenz/Germany
Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester/New York
Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg, Frankfurt/Germany
University of California, Bancroft Library, Berkeley
University of California, Davidson Library, Santa Barbara
Victoria & Albert Museum, National Art Library, London
Wesleyan University, Olin Library, Middletown/Connecticut
Yale University, Arts of the Book Collection, New Haven/Connecticut

Exhibitions
1998
Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt
2000 Walter-Tiemann-Prize, Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig
2001 Zwischenbilanz im fünften Jahr, Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel
2002 By Chance: Serendipity and Randomness in Contemporary Artists’ Books, Yale University Library, New Haven/CT
2003 Neunte Triennale, Museum of Applied Arts Frankfurt and Museum of Arts & Design New York
2004 Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt
2006 Contemporary Artists’ Books from Germany, Municipal Museum, Toyota
2007 exhibition of the complete encyclopaedia, Gutenberg-Museum, Mainz
2008 Tweede encyclopedie van Tlön, Museum Meermanno, The Hague
2008 colloquium and exhibition Die Erkundung von Tlön, Ruhr-University, Bochum
2012 exhibition and symposium Buchkunst Total, Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfurt
2012 Diamond Leaves – Brilliant Artist Books from around the World, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing/China
2014 Éloge de la rareté, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
2016 Im Dialog: Künstlerbücher von Ines v. Ketelhodt und Werke aus der Universalbibliothek von Carl Gerd v. Ketelhodt (1738 –1814), Altes Rathaus, Rudolstadt
2016 Historic Futures: Artists Reinvent the Book, Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco/CA
2017 buchstäblich Buch, Künstlerbücher von Peter Malutzki, Klingspor-Museum Offenbach

Literature
Typolemik – Typophilie, Mainz 2000
Faszination Buch, Leipzig 2000
Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön, Flörsheim 2007
Book Art Object, Berkeley 2008
No translation required, Savannah 2010
Masters: Book Arts, New York 2011
Enzyklopädien des Imaginären, Hildesheim 2011
Diamond Leaves, Beijing 2012
Translatio, Paris 2013
Die Kunst schlägt zu Buche, Offenbach 2013
Imprint, volume 49, Fitzroy 2014
Éloge de la rareté, Paris 2014
Handverlesen, Berlin 2015
Buch – Kunst – Objekt, Stuttgart 2015
buchstäblich Buch, Flörsheim/Offenbach 2017
 
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