It is 1947. A boy watches as a shaft of light falls through a dusty window. It moves patiently across the wall to, finally, caress the portrait of a young woman. He is six, forty-five, and seventy-four years old and the year is still 1947. Fascinated by the image of time, he feels the walls of the room embrace him. Tomorrow, in the garden, he will pose alongside his brother wearing a paper-crown, a gift from his mother’s hands. Much later the crown grows. It gains weight. It becomes a thing, it becomes Carr-Harris' 1987 work, Reproduction of a Boy’s Paper Crown, Ottawa, about 1947. It travels to Kassel for documenta 8. It travels to Edmonton. It disappears. Today, it is A Boy’s Paper Crown, Ottawa, 1947 (2015). Reconsidered, re-examined, recollected, it reappears now in the space of the Susan Hobbs Gallery. Displaced, replaced, a memory.
Installed upstairs is Combray (2008), the third work in Carr-Harris' ongoing investigation into the possibilities of the pop-up book. Here, In Search of Lost Time, we turn to Marcel Proust's memory of the petite madeleine, to the famous passage in which a simple thing, the taste of an aunt's favourite cookie, arrests time and opens the floodgates of memory and the tapestry of the past. In Combray, the madeleine is a silver locket held within the body of the book, an object yet a thing, a memory in the form of remembrance, a reflection on who, and what, we are.
With the work in this exhibition Carr-Harris asks, “Who has not nursed in their memory something that endures, a thing that has unconsciously guided us in our actions and our judgments?” Jonah Lehrer writes that memory cannot be separated from its moment of recollection. The more we remember, the more the original fades. Memories, of crown or madeleine, shift. To remember is to recollect. To collect once again.