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Gareth Long and Derek Sullivan: The Illustrated Dictionary of Received Ideas

Since 2009, artists Gareth Long and Derek Sullivan have worked towards an on-going project to illustrate and translate Gustave Flaubert’s Dictionary of Received Ideas (1911 – 13). Seated at an iteration of Long’s work Bouvard and Pécuchet’s Invented Desk For Copying, a series of desk-sculptures pulled from the unfinished pages of Flaubert’s incomplete last novel, the two artists intend eventually to illustrate every entry in Flaubert’s posthumously published satirical dictionary – a text that contains 950 biting and surprisingly contemporary entries lampooning bourgeois French society of the time. Flaubert had intended to include this text as part of the second half of the novel Bouvard and Pécuchet. The desk-sculptures act as an illustration of the final moments of the novel with Long and Sullivan seated at them evoking the eponymous characters. By ‘copying’ the two characters in the novel, Long and Sullivan’s drawing sessions contribute to the seemingly endless cycle of mimicry and citation taking place in the book.

Long and Sullivan have worked on the Dictionary through more than 23 illustrating sessions to date, which have included public drawing sessions at MoMA PS1, Printed Matter, Smack Mellon, Kate Werble Gallery, and the Bloomberg Building in New York; Mercer Union, Art Metropole, the AGYUagyu, Oakville Galleries and Jessica Bradley Art + Projects in Toronto; The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge; READread Books at the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver; The Musée juste pour rire in Montreal; Flat Time House in London, England; Shandy Hall in Coxwold, England; and Weils in Brussels.

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