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Claire Huot

Claire Huot is a scholar specializing in Chinese studies. She has written two books on contemporary Chinese culture, La Petite révolution culturelle (Éditions Philippe Picquier), and China’s New Cultural Scene: A Handbook of Changes (Duke...

Robert Majzels

Robert Majzels’s books include Hellman’s Scrapbook, City of Forgetting, Apikoros Sleuth, and The Humbugs Diet. In 2007, he was awarded the Alcuin Society Prize for Excellence in Book Design for the limited edition of


Claire Huot

Robert Majzels

Five volume set
Edition Size: 200
Binding: Hardcover, Anstey Bookbinding
Paper: Lynx Opaque
Book Sizes: 8.75 x 3.25
Visual Poetry | $250.00 [for full set]
ISBN [for set]: 978-1-934254-41-7

Volumes also sold individually
Original page designs by Robert Majzels
Set stand designed and manufactured by Nathan Tremblay
Published simultaneously in Canada by Moveable Inc.

CONTACT Les Figues directly to purchase this book

Created by Claire Huot and Robert Majzels, 85 consists of five stunning volumes that are simultaneously art objects, radical translations, and powerful works of visual poetry. In a series of creative cross-cultural encounters, these writer-translators take passages from the biblical Song of Songs, poems from China’s Tang Dynasty, works by the Chinese poets Xue Tao and Bada Shanren, and selections from The Quotations of Mao Zedong and transform them into 85-letter blocks of text. These letters, presented without space breaks or punctuation, float in elegant geometric columns on the variously colored pages, demanding the reader’s active engagement as she organizes and reorganizes them into constantly fluctuating combinations of meaning.

85 uses visual media and avant-garde techniques to explore the border between translation and original creation. The aim is to apply a non-mastering ethical view of the translator’s task: “rather than reducing the foreign text to dominant cultural values in English,” the translator seeks to achieve “an ethnodeviant pressure on those values to register the linguistic and cultural differences of the foreign text” (Venuti, The Invisibility of the Translator). Majzels’ and Huot’s approach is open-ended, nonlinear, and materialist—a practice evoked by the visual layout of the texts, which enacts the difficult negotiation in English of Chinese poetic works.

Produced in a limited edition of 200 (180 of which are available for sale),  85 is printed on Lynx Opaque acid-free paper with an accordion fold. Bound individually in hard covers with embossed and foil stamped titles, each volume is a work of visual text-art in its own right. Complete sets come in a specially made, frosted epoxy resin case by Nathan Tremblay.

About the books:

Bada Shanren presents the reader with vibrant new translations of the poet-artist Bada Shanren’s inscriptions, which appear in his ink-brush paintings of small, seemingly inconsequential creatures and plants: mynah birds, globefish, the muddy roots of lotus.

Mao Zedong newly translates passages from the Quotations from Chairman Mao, better known in the West as “The Little Red Book,” reproducing aslant those hyperbolic quotations rich in imagery and replete with numbers that are so deeply imbedded in China’s collective memory.

Song of Songs presents the materiality and semantic multiplicity of the Torah’s most poetic and erotically charged book, transforming the language of the original into a tangible, material substance.

Tang Dynasty re-translates works by canonical Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) figures such as Li Bai, Wang Wei, and Du Fu, approximating the limitation of 20 words in the original Chinese poetic form, the jueju or “perfected sentence.”

Xue Tao translates 17 out of 100 surviving poems of the female Chinese poet Xue Tao (768-831), whittling their already sparse, minimalistic imagery into a highly individual voice of banishment on the edge of language.


  • 1st Prize Book Series category, Applied Arts Award, 2014
  • Honourable Mention, Alcuin Society Excellence in Book Design, Limited Edition Category for 85 (Moveable Inc. and Les Figues).
  • Short Listed, Art Gallery York University Artists’ Book of the Moment, 2013.
  • Unisource Canada Design and Print Excellence Award


  • The Frankfurt Book Fair, October 8-12, 2014
  • The Leipzig Book Fair, March 12-15, 2015
  • Redpath Library, McGill University, Montreal, Canada, July 2014
  • National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada, August 18 to September 5, 2014
  • The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, Alcuin Society Awards Ceremony, Toronto, Canada, October 6, 2014
  • Fine Arts Building Gallery, Department of Art and Design, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, January 20-February 14, 2015
  • W.A.C. Bennett Library, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, July-August 2014
  • Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, Canada, September 11, 2014
  • Irving K. Barber Learning Center, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, December 5 – January 16, 2014
  • McPherson Library, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada, November 2014