The Somme. (Detachment series)
Brass fasteners, acrylic, wire on canvas tarpaulin, 2016.
(120” x 120”)
These charts show how the stars would have appeared on the final day of several major battles of the First World War, based upon their respective dates and geographic location.
The stars are physically marked by century-old brass fasteners that were removed from the archived personnel files of 640,000 Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) soldiers, as part of a massive digitization project by Library and Archives Canada. Each one of these paper records was detached from its fastener by hand, in preparation for the task.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) played a significant role in each of the battles depicted, and lost 60,661 lives during the Great War. The brass from their service records ties us to the ways that we organize and preserve information in order to inform and remember.
Stars are a cross-cultural constant that many turn to for direction, be it spiritual or navigational, and are a universal way that we recognize and memorialize the fallen.