Legendary, Lexical, Loquacious Love

Karen ReimerEve Rhymer


Book, 17 x 10.5 cm, 343 p, language: English, publisher: Chicago: Sara Ranchouse Publishing, ISBN: 1 888636 09 2.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2025/474).

Literary synopsis

Legendary, Lexical, Loquacious Love is an alphabetized romance novel; Karen Reimer took all of the words in an existing romance novel and sorted them alphabetically. She wondered how the love story would exist without a narrative structure/plot line. She used the alphabet—an arbitrary, non-hierarchical ordering convention—for its objective unemotional character, which places it at odds with the subjective emotional character of romance novels. Reimer wanted to see if there was a particular lexicon of words used for romance writing that would be made available through alphabetization. The artist wondered if she put a cover like this on it--essentially announcing to readers that it is a romance novel—does it then become possible to read an alphabetical list of words as a love story. Reimer thinks it is still a love story, although perhaps not a romance. For example, there’s arguably a loose narrative readable moving from “marriage” to “mastery” and “mattresses” and shouting “me! me! me!” to “meal-planning” on pages 178-179. And several pages of the “F” chapter read like a steamy sex scene. See for example pages 98-99. This book is part of a series of artist novels based on pulp fiction genres, including romances, science fiction, and westerns. The series was conceived and edited by Sally Alatalo, founder of the artist book publisher Sara Ranchouse Publishing.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

While Karen Reimer does regularly work with language, Legendary, Lexical, Loquacious Love is the only novel she has made. What it and her other work have in common are certain conceptual concerns and the working methods that have developed out of them. Reimer is interested in the operations that we, as individuals and as a culture, perform on the phenomena of the world in order to make sense of it. Organizing systems such as categories, hierarchies, narrative, logic, common sense, and mathematics become containers or framing devices for information and experiences. Further, she is interested in the relationship between system and information, or container and contents. Certainly containers transform their contents, often in ways that seem very Procrustean, but to what extent do the contents transform the containers? In her work Reimer tries to explore this relationship. Her methods include mixing systems that are usually considered unrelated or separate--in the case of Legendary, Lexical, Loquacious Love, narrative and alphabetical order--and then examining the results of that contamination. She uses excessiveness, fragmentation, and recontextualization to the point of absurdity. Such exercises disturb the internal logic of the systems and enable the author to question some of the assumptions she carries about the world. Reimer is not interested in the activity of disruption purely for its own sake—although she does enjoy it—but rather for its capacity to produce new ideas, new ways of seeing the world.

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