400 Books Combine to Form The Great Wave Or Saltwater Memories. (Mixed Media Installation By Marc Lincourt, 2008. All Photos by Barbara Laborde.)
400 names, 400 journeys, 400 stories, 400 books: all are connected to form the foundation of a great city. That is the theme of The Great Wave or Saltwater Memories, a monumental art piece created from 400 hardcover volumes to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city of Quebec. Conceived and constructed by artist Marc Lincourt, the piece has been washing ashore throughout Canada since 2008 and is on display at the Centre d'archives de Montréal from February 2- April 18, 2010.
Each of the 400 books represents a historic family involved in the founding of the city of Quebec. A roster of names was compiled from the manifests of ships setting sail in the 17th and 18th centuries from many regions of France to the New World. The family names are embossed in layered lettering on the book's covers, and the sealed volumes contain an imaginary secret history, a hidden narrative. The 400 distinct stories flowed together to form a single wave of settlers powerful enough to tame the wilds of New France.
fleur de sel and coarse sea salt form a part of each outer cover, a reference to the "white gold" that helped New France to prosper in its earliest days.