Justin Quinn’s Epic E’s


Justin Quinn’s works, based on Moby Dick, are on view at Abecedarian and will be through December 17. There is an online catalog here with a few details; I recommend viewing these works in person so if you are in the area and can come see the actual work I hope you make the effort – it is worthwhile.

My introduction to this work came via a gallery visitor describing this project to me – he said quite simply “Have you ever seen Justin Quinn’s work? He re-wrote Moby Dick using only the letter ‘E’” – What? I thought and probably said out loud . . . Quinn has indeed altered Melville’s epic novel by changing all the letters to the letter E, thus abstracting the text away from something that is read into something that is seen.


After viewing Justin’s work online I invited him exhibit some of this work at Abecedarian during the hand-lettered exhibition. He graciously agreed – what a treat it has been having the work here. I was quite simply not prepared for the elegance of this work.



A project spanning five years, housed in  two cloth covered, hand bound books, the covers slightly stained and worn. What is inside is remarkable. Page after page of the letter E – in its capital form, a series of 3 marks made over and over and over again, in graphite, page upon page of meditations.

In Volume I, the traditional page layout of left to right, top to bottom. Personally, I am most charmed by the page numbers, title and table of contents pages.


The second volume, Moby Dick Volume II or 174,649 times E, is more a suite of drawings, following its own logic rather than following traditional page layout. Quinn thinks of the process of producing this book as a collaboration between himself and Melville.

This set of volumes is accompanied by a wall installation of Volume II.  Photocopies of Moby Dick Volume II have been photocopied and its structure exploded. No longer a unique book that is viewed in an intimate way, it has been rendered in a limitless edition and viewable in a very public way.


Quinn wall 2 fmt

Also on view is The World over Nothing or 1,864 times E, an intaglio print version of a passage from Moby Dick, one that ponders the monotony and sublime sameness of existence, placed above a blank page spread. In some ways these intaglio plates look more like a book than a book does.



Both of the volumes are for sale individually or as a set. The entire photocopied versions are also available, as are individual pages. The intaglio print, in an edition of 6, is also available. Please contact me for details.


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