Encyclopedia Britannica, 1969

Basel 2016
Tornabuoni Art
Indian ink on book in wood and plexiglass box;
70.0 x 50.0 x 8.7 (cm)
27.6 x 19.7 x 3.4 (inch)
‘My work with “erasure” started in 1964, when I began using black India ink to strike through great classics of world literature – from Dante’s Divine Comedy to Shakespeare’s tragedies – and a variety of brochures and newspaper articles. Then, between the late 1960s and early 1970s, I went on to tackle the monuments of universal knowledge: the Enciclopedia Treccani, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopédie Larousse, etc. My purpose was not to destroy the word, but to preserve it, by interrupting the way in which it was emptied of meaning and significance through its communication by the media. Erasure calls into question the survival of the human word. As a philosophical and anthropological rather than an aesthetic problem, erasure is a brick for rebuilding communication. We have been fed such a rich diet of word that in the end we no longer read them. But if they are taken away from us, we rediscover their full force and power. It is the same with images in the media: They are so many and so overwhelming as to make us effectively blind. But they need only be erased, all these acid-bright pictures, for our eye to see once again.’