I have the Pack, Unpack performance this Thursday in Shannon Airport. I am going to pack the suitcase again now to try a trial before the proper trial tomorrow when I can use the glór studio.
I am feeling good-ish about this at present. Anyone I have spoken to about the performance has related to it on some level. I feel however that I am aiming too low with being satisfied with that as a connective outcome from the gen pub. But its a good starting point.
Tara, Dublin Performance Artist who kindly mentors me a bit, kindly me re the performance and said
“I would really consider what you pack into that bag and the connotations that it has. Should it be just a straight forward bag with clothes and toiletries for any kind of trip or should it reflect your journey returning home from Canada. Maybe the items could be of replacements of the ones you left in Canada. Maybe it could be items that you hold personal value to in this present day. How have they change from that time? I think having a clearer idea of the objects will help decipher the actions of the performance”
She is not wrong. I had not thought too much about what I would put into the suitcase. It has so far been the ACTION that I have been interested in, not the suitcase contents. But of course they matter. I am going to go have a shower then pack the suitcase again and think a little more about what goes in. I am going to try initially to recreate a similar mix of items I would have brought home from Vancouver. Clothes, shoes, belongings, baby clothes and stuff. I will try this and docment here.
I went through the process again, Wednesday 18th Dec, this morning at glór studio.
I had now repacked my case with different items. They are all significant and personal this time. I decided this time to focus the items on myself and the relationship I have with the clothes and belongings I’d included. Things I hold onto for emotional reasons. Things I have brought home in suitacses before. NON ESSENTIAL THINGS. thinking about what is essential/non esential?
Items included: Dresses. Im a sucker for buying dresses in case I might ever wear them. I rarely do. I am drawn to buying them for some reason. I am 5 ft 9.5, pretty thin and NO curves. Blade 2 shaved head at present. I think I’m looking for something transformative to happen when I try on these dresses. Like that they will enhance me in some way.
I packed some dresses that I have bought that don’t fit, usually I buy them too big, but I keep them thinking I would alter them. Never have. Still in my warddrobe. I packed some that I bought thinking I would wear, but nope, never have. Will I ever? I packed one that I bought recently as it made me feel good when I tried it on. I absolutely did not need it. It was a 100% emotional purchase. It was not expensive which was why I reasoned with myself that it was ok to buy. All of these dresses take up space in my wardrobe. Some I bought while living elsewhere. All (bar the newest one) have been packed and repacked and brought with me from place to place in the past.
I packed some lengths of material, that I bought in Vancouver over 10 years ago, and brought home with me. Thinking I would make something out of it. They have since taken on a memorial significance. I can remember the shop I used to go to in downtown vancouver where I bought this material and other stuff, it had endless realms of fabric and all things haberdashery. I went there a lot.
I packed various vintage clothing items and vintage bags I bought in vancouver from the decent vintage shops in kitsilano and surrounding streets. Vintage was not that popular in vancouver at the time and the stuff you could get was amazing, hence why I had actually also sent my Dad home with a full suitcase of vintage dresses and bags when he came to visit us there, knowing I could not bring them all back in my own luggage. He gamely agreed to take them.
I packed baby blankets and some baby clothes. The only baby clothes I have left are hats, some booties all 3 of my kids wore as babies, and some vests and a few items belonging to my middle kid Annie. I had kept some of her stuff as they were so impossibly tiny I wanted to show them to her some day, for her to realise how tiny she was when she came home from the hospital. she was 4lbs at birth, and I think about 5lbs when she came home 6 weeks later. The blankets are ones given to me as presents for Connla when he was born in Vancouver, and other ones we bought while living there. Some are hand me downs from a friend of mine form vancouver. Vancouverites were all about recycling and hand me downs, miles ahead of us at the time. I was working as a personal trainer at the time and my clients literally brought me in bags of hand me down clothes and baby stuff when they heard I was pregnant. They were all about the use, resuse ideology. All the blankets I packed all have memories attached. ALso I brought all this stuff home with me from vancouver originallly and opted NOT to throw it away at departures so thought it fitting I should repack some of it again.
Books. I only packed 3 today, might pack more. 2 performance art ones and the one I am actually reading right now. This is typical as I am always reading something for career development reasons and simultaenously reading something more easily digestible at the same time. The idea of not having books with me would send me into a panic.
toiletries. I literally grabbed a load of stuff from my bathroom and also my makeup bag. I took everything out and laid it on the floor of glór. it looks pretty insignifiacnt which is interesting. I thought about how interesting, if at all, it will be to watch someone pack and unpack all this stuff. I am not sure. Probably not that interesting. If I am callign it a performance, which I am , then should I be attaching more importatnce to the entertainment value of the action? I obvously don’t mind as its the action itself which I find interesting. I cannot predict the response of an observer, if any, so I will continue.
trainging gear and trainers. More of this I need to add as I always pack at least 2 full changes. I would never go anywehere without training gear.
clothes I never wear. I packed a selection of items that exist in my wardrobe that I NEVER wear. I alwasy think I might (whenever I hover over them when I am doing a clearout) then I decide to keep them. Why? What is this need to hold onto stuff I have? The anticipation of a never to arrive situation when my quality of life mght sharply improve by the wearing of this garment?
I also packed stuff I DO wear all the time. Jeans. Jumpers. Polo necks. Y shorts. vests.
Stuff I need to pack:
high heels ( I would typically bring a pair of going out shoes thinking I might need them..)
coat- or 2 which would be typical if I am being honest..
underwear and socks- actually forgot to pack any of this. need to add.
personal items. sketchooks. pens. my pencil case. phone. pakeup. photos? lucky stuff? like weird talismans and stuff I have accululated on previous trips or places Ive lived that I felt the need to pack and bring with me to the next place?
CONNOTATIONS- LINKS: I am thinking how 1st world all this is. Im aware that I can make this performance as I am not a refugeee or someone in a war torn area that has lost everything. I have all this STUFF as I have been in a position to be able to hold onto all of it over the years. As I said in my pitch to Shannon,
“Description: Pack, Unpack is a 2 hour durational public performance by the performance artist Rachel Macmanus. Pack, Unpack addresses contemporary challenges around consumerism, ownership, anxiety and how we manage our increasingly chaotic lives.
Someone kneeling on the floor surrounded by the contents of an open suitcase is not unusual at an airport. But why would someone pack and unpack a suitcase over and over again?
Pack, Unpack is a Sisyphean metaphor for all of us trying to organize our belongings and as such our increasingly chaotic lives into some order. It’s a reflection on how anxiety can manifest itself, and how consumerism has taken over our lives. Do we really need all this stuff? Being compelled to repeat the action over and over again, unable to stop. Is there some comfort in the repeated action? Do we turn to mindless repetitive actions when overwhelmed? Airports are places of heightened emotion, especially around the holidays. Pack, Unpack reflects these emotions and invites the audience to consider what really matters to them at this time of year.”
I also said ” There is humour, pathos, and interesting concepts around consumerism and anxiety and stress in the work.” Ambitious words right there :)
OK I have to pack up again now and get going. I will change up the suitcase items again and add the above, I think the more I can stuff in the better.
Lets see how tomorrow goes.