2013 - Memory Containers




Work shown at Where History and Progress Meet exhibition - West Chicago City Museum. Curated by Sara Phalen and Anni Holm.




Memory Containers

The City of West Chicago developed with the advent of trains. As the City grew, from a small town named Junction, to become the City of West Chicago, different modes of transportation also arrived. Today, West Chicago is the junction of planes, trains and automobiles. Throughout its history the mobility afforded by these modes of transportation also brought many people from many parts of the world, making it a welcoming place for newcomers.

When an immigrant arrives at a new place, the experiences and stories of their old country are still fresh, and the world is seen through the lenses of the former culture. However, adapting to a new country shifts one’s identity. The new experiences and new stories reshape the individual and collective identities.

The new immigrant’s identity mirrored the changes the City of West Chicago faced. As it searched for its place in the broader region, it shifted its identity starting with the name Junction, in direct reference to the train junction, to later become Turner (also referred to as Turner-Junction) and then finally to become the City of West Chicago, looking to market itself as a more metropolitan place.

An immigrant’s identity is shaped by their story just as a town’s identity is shaped by its story tellers. After all, you are the stories you tell. New stories become as much a part of your identity as you old ones. But in the story-telling process, old stories become less clear, less sharp. Old stories from the old country are like old storybooks, where the binding no longer holds together tightly, the pages might be mixed up, pages molded, the writing smudged, the paper disintegrated, pages fused together...

For the show at West Chicago City Museum titled “Where History and Progress Meet” I showed a project that worked from the idea of memory containers. These containers, made from pulped paper, have inclusions (object and image) in them, telling non-narrative stories of the past that are partly concealed. The containers are placed in a suitcase and have a soundscape accompany the installation. The soundscape can be heard through earphones, making the experience more intimate and allowing the viewer a sense of isolation, helping them read these visual stories.

The soundscape can be heard at: