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Empire PieceEnlarge image

Empire Piece, 1970-1971

Ian Carr-Harris
Canadian, 1941
two painted wooden units, one with slide projector and 35 mm slide
187.3 x 245 x 80.7 cm assembled
Purchased 1973
National Gallery of Canada (no. 17264.1-2)

When first exhibited in 1970, this sculpture included a projected image of a map of the Roman Empire. Upon reflection, the artist changed the slide from a geopolitical image of empire to one showing text. Until this sculpture was made, very few of Carr-Harris' works incorporated language. In 1976 the artist remarked: "I was much more interested in the language - the actual word 'empire,' for instance, carries with it much more force . . . It occurred to me, starting with that piece, the power that language has for its reference." The ambiguous title "empire piece" also relates to the curious furniture-like elements of the sculpture, which with their dramatic and uniquely turned legs and heavy moulding resemble period-style pieces.

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