Michael Maranda


Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

three projects

statement .  .  .

Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire seems an apt book to be using as source in the early years of this century. A series of three projects use this text as source material, all three reproducing selected phrases from Gibbon’s text that refer to timeframes. One might surmise that, with Gibbon having been the first historian to prolifically use footnotes, that I would focus on that aspect of the text. Instead, however, I am using the text to look closely at the passing of historical time.

The first is a set of ten prints, entitled “Extracts from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” which reproduce the most poetical fragments found in the text (such as, “a superficial epitome of two hundred and fifty years”). These fragments, all referring to periods of time in similar manner, are letterpressed in red ink on sheets of johannot paper. The prints, 50x36cm, are editioned to ten.

The second, a small 32 page book, is restricted to the most specific and austere descriptions of passing time (“three years, five months, and four days”). Entitled "An Abridgement of Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” it is laser-printed on johannot paper as well and case-bound in red cloth. This book is published under the imprint of Parasitic Ventures Press, and the first printing is 100 copies and is approximately 15x12x1cm.

The final book, and most extensive examination of the text, is a paperbacked perfectbound edition that reproduces a large compendium of phrases in Gibbon’s text which refer in any manner to periods of time, from the prosaic to the poetic. These fragments are typeset in the book (which runs to 670-some pages) in the place where they would be had the text been printed in full. The pages are printed on one side of translucent rag paper, and thus the text is legible through several sheets of paper. (The effect is somewhat reproduced in a pdf which attempts to duplicate the experience of reading the text.) This book is editioned to ten. Each measures approximately 28x36x6cm in a clamshell archival box.

exhibitions .  .  .


•  “Extracts from ...” in Solo. “Breath and Intonation,” Akau Gallery (Toronto)

•  (book projects to be launched in future, location TBD)

collections .  .  .

•  Saskatchewan Arts Board (In situ selections …)