The process of compressing objects into their most compact and portable form has fascinated me since childhood. Portability translated into the potential for travel and adventure; the lure of unknown shores coupled with a self-sufficiency that transcended place. Much like the magic of Mary Poppin’s suitcase filled with an incomprehensible host of items and objects, I longed to conjure an illusion of the impossible.
The Traveling Suitcase Installation Project is an attempt to marry the enchanting form of an art installation that can compress into a suitcase with a fantastical solution for making the work available to new audiences and communities. The project began with an arts residency at Dundee Contemporary Art in Scotland where I produced a series of large-scale woodcut prints that fold into a suitcase and reanimate into a sculptural installation.
Utilizing the DCA Print Studio’s considerable engagement with developing systems and formats to achieve authentic aesthetic investigations through digital processes, I paired digitally carved imagery with hand-carved organic forms to create tension and harmony within the dichotomy of mark making. Moving from the printed mark to the compositional whole, the staccato systems of folded structure intermingle with fluid organic imagery mimicking the duality of these expressions. The placement of the folds integrates into the sculptural potential of the piece allowing for shapes to emerge from the bends and planes of the large-scale paper form. Designed to be mutable, the shape-shifting installation takes on variable configurations, allowing each manifestation to be unique to its environment.
Following the creation of the work, the project embarked on a traveling exhibition tour. The project has been presented as short-term pop-up exhibitions in the following venues: GENERATORprojects, an artist-run collaborative gallery in Dundee, at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar inside of an inflatable domed pavilion created by Collective Magpie titled Nomadic Atelier, at WerkStadt in Berlin, an artist collective, union, gallery and meeting space in Berlin, and at Hugo Pratt Biblioteca in collaboration with Teatro Marinoni Bene Commune, a multi-use cultural space on the island of Lido in Venice. Since returning to the US, the project has been exhibited at C.R. Ettinger Studio in Philadelphia, and Rush Corridor Gallery in Brooklyn.
Each time the piece is displayed, it takes a new form, sculpting to the specificity of the space it inhabits. The real magic is bound up in the possibilities each new pop-up exhibition affords: an opportunity to work with and connect with new artistic communities and to share an awareness of new spaces and practices.