David Shrigley Turns "The Da Vinci Code" Into "1984" in His New Project, "Pulped Fiction"
There was a moment in time where on every train, every plane, every poolside lounge chair arrangement, there was someone reading Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Which of course means that every single person who read such speculative fiction would then head to their local charity shop or used book store and turn in their copy of the bestseller. And like clockwork, this happened in droves, so much so that in 2017, a charity shop in Swansea in South Wales went viral for a campaign that, tongue-in-cheek, pleading with customers to stop bringing in their Code copies. This gave David Shrigley, the acclaimed conceptual artist and our Summer 2023 cover artist, an idea.
This week, Shrigley is launching a limited-edition of George Orwell’s dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four, constructed entirely from pulped, second hand copies of The Da Vinci Code he collected over the course of a few years from every second hand copy he could find. That's right, Shrigley turned The Da Vinci Code into 1984. And the project is called Pulped Fiction.
The story goes that Shrigley's studio worked with a specialist papermill, book designer and screenprinters to upcycle and repurpose the books into a release of 1,000 copies of Nineteen Eighty- Four, which came out of copyright in 2021. Each book in the edition has been signed and numbered by David Shrigley and comes with a signed and numbered screen-print. Fragments of the original novels remain on the paper, with letters and sometimes whole words of Robert Langdon’s adventures appearing on the pages. The typeface was carefully chosen to mirror the type used for The Da Vinci Code’s first edition, while the book’s cover has been repurposed from the card backing and dustjackets of more than 1,250 copies of the hardback special edition.
"I am fascinated by the power of books to rewrite our culture, something that Dan Brown and George Orwell have each addressed in their wildly successful works," Shrigley said in a statement. "Pulped Fiction should not be seen as a commentary on either writer, but as one artist’s effort to rescue a mountain of unwanted paperbacks and turn them into something new."
A small number of copies of the book will be available for sale at Oxfam Books & Music in Swansea during the launch weekend from October 27—29, 2023, with remaining copies sold online after the event. There is also a 30-minute documentary on the making of Pulped Fiction, with free hourly screenings at Swansea’s Volcano Theatre during the launch weekend.
We sat down with Shrigley this week for a special edition of the Radio Juxtapoz podcast, which we will release this week. For more information on the project, visit https://pulpedfiction.davidshrigley.com
Oxfam Books & Music
34 Castle St., Swansea, SA1 1HZ
Saturday 28th Oct, 10am-5pm
Sunday 29th Oct, 10am-5pm
Photography by Alun Callender Photo