La Perruque (2015 ~)
Olivier Bertrand, ed.
Box housing one complete set of “unbound” editions (Nos. 00-21) with one binding spool; two “bound” rolls including fourteen available issues; one offset paper sheet (70 × 100 cm, folded) with issues Nos. 9 & 10 printed in margins; “servez vous” tickets for Talk #2, a typographic discussion at Atelier BEK, Brussels, Belgium, 19 April 2017. Collector’s edition of 5, of which this is #2. Acquired from Olivier Bertrand, 30 October 2020. Photos: Books On Books Collection.
In French, une perruque is a wig but also the slang term for something made for home on the sly while on the employer’s clock. In English, it’s called a “homer”. In the case of La Perruque, the entire typography magazine is a “homer”; it literally exists in the otherwise unused margins of print shop production sheets. As founder Olivier Bertrand explains on his site, however, this magazine “hack” is completely above board:
Year 2015. A first unspoken agreement with the print shop Media Graphic in Rennes allows Oliver Bertrand to use a blank surface in the margins of their regular prints. Ever since that founding experience, materials (unused print surfaces) and large scale production techniques (offset printing) have been the playgrounds for type designers, print shops and publishers to collaborate. Production time, number of copies, colors and type of paper depend on this economy of means.
Each issue is a 1 x 90 cm ribbon. A pointer to an issue printed in the otherwise blank margin of a sheet for another printing job.
Each issue is rolled up on a card spindle.
La Perruque’s unusual binding as well as its subject make it a desirable addition to the Books On Books Collection. Each issue is a tiny but long type specimen book. It is the combination rather than solely its status as specimen book that attracts. Some bookworks play with codex, scroll, folio and box structures, others play with paper’s folding, unfolding and self-encasing as in accordion and palm-leaf books. While spooled, spindled or bobbined books can replicate the scroll book structure, the narrow, ticker-tape-like linearity of La Perruque feels like a different structural game.
With La Perruque, this structural game has two fields: that of the otherwise unused margins of printed sheets for other products and that of the card spindle on which the issue is wound. The marginal space from which each issue comes comments on the subject of every issue. The comment may be socioeconomic, political, philosophical, aesthetic or all of these. Michel Anteby’s article cited below explores in general that kind of commentary. The way in which the “unwinding binding” forces us to examine these type specimens and to “close” the book also comments on each issue: look closely at both sides of the ribbon, look hard, watch and think how the words and letters unravel, and watch and think as they roll back onto their spindle.
Offset paper sheet (70 × 100 cm, folded) with issues Nos. 9 & 10 printed in the lower margin.
A card spindle may hold one issue (as with the first spindle above) or several (as with the spindle beneath the first).
La Perruque is more than its issues. It is also an online archive for the issues and online point of access to the type designers’ documented font design processes. The type specimens are mainly for the Web, but their material publication makes us read and think with our hands. This is publishing as artistic practice to which you can subscribe here for your own collection.
Anteby, Michel. “Factory ‘homers’: Understanding a highly elusive, marginal, and illegal practice“, Sociologie du travail, 45, 2003, pp. 453-71.