Fragmentary Excess: Body, Text, Receptacle


The many fragments shown here reveal the quantity of meanings, lacunae, and entire losses to the written historical record. While much of the extant literary record is gleaned from fragments, the fact that they are fragmented actually illuminates the excessive amount of information that has been lost.

Exhibited here are individual letters, literary works, administrative documents, dedicatory inscriptions, and religious texts which demonstrate the myriad of motivations for communication and writing. Some textual fragments that survive are works that have been repeatedly copied to ensure their preservation throughout time; others were not conceived with the intention to survive. Many texts were created for public reception, while others were written for a limited or individual audience, human or divine.

To the contemporary viewer, these artifacts are both texts and objects, meaning and graphic mark, read and experienced.


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