Rewriting Books Through Redacted Text

Earlier this week, Animal NY showed some images from someguy, a San Francisco-based artist and aesthetic troublemaker who has taken on the task of redacting the text of seminal books, be it pages from the Bible or Catcher in the Rye. In his arguably most controversial piece, 212 Slaves, he blacked-out all the text in Huckleberry Finn save for the n-word (which occurs 212 times in the novel) as a response to the recent move to replace the offending word with “slave” in contemporary editions. In another piece, he redacts everything on the page except for the word “unicorn,” which for whatever reason is mentioned in the Good Book multiple times. Despite his assertion that his work “provides no answers, leaving people to determine the meaning of the message,” we think someguy’s delivery makes it pretty clear that he is interested in making plain the inflammatory and absurd messages we receive while reading noteworthy texts.

This made us think about a few other examples of redacted writing, such as the work of Dutch artist Martijn Hendriks, who removed any mention of the word “art” in Rosalind Krauss’s essay, “Sculpture in the Field.” As a venerable critic and founder of October, Krauss is known for her aesthetic opinion, and Hendricks erases that power through his piece. Another example is Jonathan Safran Foer’s cut-out, remixed novel, Tree of Codes, which uses the bulk of Bruno Schultz’s 1934 novel, Street of Crocodiles to make an entirely new work.

Do you have any other examples of redacted text art, readers?


9 Unicorns (from vintage Bibles)