New York

Spencer Finch

Postmasters

In a darkish room you focus on the outline of a window, cast on a wall by a street lamp outside. Every so often a brighter light sweeps through the space, from the headlights of a car driving past, briefly lifting the room from darkness to a kind of twilight and then disappearing. There is nothing else to see.

This is Spencer Finch’s Paper Moon (Studio Wall at Night), 2009. But there is no street lamp, no window, no car; the work is an effect, or series of effects, laboriously re-created with various media, including a model train on a track, to bring to viewers this particular artifact from the artist’s catalogue of memories. The endeavor is not unlike what is attempted by the narrator of Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder (2005), who, having lost a great deal of his memory, spends untold millions trying to re-create a feeling of authenticity he once had when entering an apartment building,

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