Produced in an edition of 50, Orientalism Z to A (Edition One Books, 2019) presents a reverse-alphabetical re-ordering of the words in Edward Said's "Orientalism" (1978). Created by Doha-based experimental publishing and visual research project Water With Water (W/W/W) following their 2018 residency at DesignInquiry, W/W/W ended up with this simple counter-alphabetical organisational system after sorting and re-sorting, re-ordering, and re-searching "phrases, sentiments, and other curious combinations" in Edward Said's "Orientalism"—an influential treatise on the enduring discursive hold of assumed Western civilisational unity and superiority. In a way, "Orientalism Z to A" works in the vein of literary puzzles, riddles, and interventions, from ancient antecedents to Surrealist, Dadaist, and concrete poetry. One might also be reminded of OULIPO works, such as "La Disparition" (1969) by Georges Perec, where the entire novel was written without the vowel "e". It might be helpful to think of "conceptual writing" as elaborated by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith: to treat texts as "literary ready-mades" that undergo a set of procedures, generative instructions, or constraints.
One thus does not read the work as much as think about the idea of the work; one seeks not to be sentimental or romanticise "creativity" or "originality" per se but rather to engage texts materially. In this sense, "Orientalism Z to A" is at once a sly comment on orientalism—the "reverse" order furthermore references how the Arabic script is read from right to left—as well as a conceptual yet experiential sensation of texts in an age of informational processing. "Experiential", for one, can mean having favourite sections in the book.
Orientalism Z to A was selected by Daniel Szehin Ho, Editor & Project Manager, and Director of BOOKED: Hong Kong Art Book Fair. Along with the Artists' Book Library, Tai Kwun Contemporary also engages with the interstices of "art" and "publishing" through its annual art book fair, as well as a number of commissioned artists' books, special projects and public programmes.