Pack Unpack 2022
Work Title: Pack Unpack. A durational public performance.
Description: The performance consists of the artist packing and unpack a large suitcase full
of items, consisting of toiletries, shoes and clothes belonging to an adult and to children. The
clothes include personal items from my own lived experience as an adult and a mother.
Location: Vault Studios, Belfast
History of work: Pack, Unpack was first performed in Shannon Airport, Co Clare on Thursday 19 December 2019. This second public performance has been developed further to work in a contemporary setting.
Concept: The goal of Pack, Unpack as a performance is to address 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 might not be an unusual sight at an airport. Taken out of the context of such an environment, why would someone pack and unpack a suitcase over and over again? Pack, Unpack is a Sisyphean metaphor for all of us trying to organise our increasingly chaotic lives into some order. It’s a reflection on how anxiety can manifest itself, and also how consumerism has taken over our lives to some degree, whether intentionally or not. Do we really need all this stuff? What is it for and what does it represent? What is the concept of essential?
The notion of being compelled to repeat the action or packing and unpacking over and over again, unable to stop, asks the question what motivates the action. Is there some comfort in the repeated action, turning to mindless repetitive actions when overwhelmed? In Primo Levi’s ‘If this is a man’ he describes the women feeding and packing clothes for their children the night before they are to be deported to Auschwitz. I mention this not a comparison to my work but to give an example of how a mother will instinctively look after her child, managing the everyday tasks, when faced with trauma. It is the matriarchal figure who traditionally bears the responsibility of packing and organising a household’s belongings and in this way the work affords an opportunity to think about the role of woman as caregiver.
Also bringing to light the exposed vulnerability of having ones possessions spilled out on the floor for all to see and pass judgement on. The other obvious pathway is that of forced displacement, migration and the worldwide plight of refugees, who have no choice in many cases but o pack and
Pack, Unpack reflects these emotions and invites the audience to consider what really matters to them.