Ian Carr-Harris

A Demonstration, 1981

Ian Carr-Harris
A Demonstration
Dimensions and medium
Wood, particle board, metal, paint, plastic, light bulbs, electrical wiring, and various objects, 183 × 610 × 610 cm (variable dimensions according to the exhibition area)
Gift of the artist
Artwork description
Ian Carr-Harris’s installation titled A Demonstration evokes the atmosphere of a scientific lab or a classroom. Various pieces of wheel-mounted furniture are placed in three areas based on a triangular configuration of the space. A small two-sided sign that reads “a demonstration” rests on a utility cart in one corner of the triangle, lit by a spotlight on the ceiling. In another corner, a tripod-mounted spotlight shines a soft, diffuse light on an artificial plant at the centre of a small table. In the third corner, a large blackboard, brightly lit by another tripod-mounted spotlight, has a handwritten inscription that reads: “My aunt used to say that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, personally, however, I never really believed her.” Clad in the artist’s trademark humour, the scene creates a certain sense of expectation. However, despite the suggestion of imminent action, such as the “demonstration” sign, or the mobility implied by the wheeled furniture, the scene remains completely static. Viewers are forced to imagine the narrative relationships between each element. With an elegant economy of means, Carr-Harris reminds us that reality is a construct of memory and of individual expectation.

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