Unattended Baggage | Suitcase, Timer, Accelerometer | Jack Williams | 2017
This series of sculptures was created in collaboration with my friend Jack Doerner. The timers on these suitcases count up from 0 to 100 days, only reseting when the object is moved or unplugged, essentially allowing it to keep track of its exact time in a specific location.
I first imagined the details for this project while traveling through London, and an announcement revealed that our train would be delayed until the police could determine the contents of a bag that had been left unattended. We waited in anticipation until we were reassured that it was only someone's forgotten luggage. Many were relieved that it was not a bomb. I thought their fears were exaggerated, but later that month the Manchester Arena was bombed by someone holding a similar bag. When I returned home to Virginia a few months later, a woman was killed during a white nationalist rally poised against the proposed removal of a Confederate monument.
I began to think deeply about our relationship to these objects that don’t move, and the violence that surrounds them. I became interested in the way that monuments reveal to us exactly how the space that they occupy has been used for a specific period of time; and like a planted flag, the way the permanence of their presence reifies specific ideologies within that location, erasing the other histories that may have existed there before them. I ask, what does it means for some bodies to remain transient as they are pushed and pulled through time and space, while others are allowed to remain relatively permanent, or move to claim occupied spaces, defining the (new) identity of those specific locations?
In response, these suitcases are objects that actively claim space.