Cliff Face (Pale Fire Freedom Machine), 2005
dye coupler print
frame: 124.9 x 94.5 x 5.2 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 41842)
© Geoffrey Farmer Photo © NGC
The Pale Fire Freedom Machine series depicts carefully composed groupings of thrift store wooden furniture that have been photographed straight-on in a clinical, gallery-like space. The title of each work echoes the formal qualities of the furniture's quirky arrangement. For example, Cage Work presents a desk upturned on its side, topped by two chairs, one yellow and one white. The spindles of the white chair correspond to the cage of the title and conjure up the metaphor of office work as entrapment. The series was created in conjunction with a larger, multi-media piece, A Pale Fire, which involved gallery staff in stripping and disassembling chairs, commodes, bureaus, desks and tables, after which the furniture was burned. In this sense, the photographs are both functional and metaphorical; they depict an inventory and operate as memorials.