Passing through “Elsewhere”

24 09 2009

Wednesday’s class was unique. For the first time in, I have to really jog my memory here, years where I went on a fieldtrip. Yes, reread that last sentence to make sure it sunk in. A graduate student going on a field trip, has a comical ring to it doesn’t it?

The trip was one that broke the mold of what class is like within a classroom. It was planned that way on multiple levels. The field trip was to an institution of sorts in Greensboro, North Carolina called Elsewhere. The former retail space is literally a living time capsule, frozen in time. Think of it this way, the camera shutter opened in 1939 (when the store opened) and snapped closed in 1997 (when the original owner passed away). Throughout that time, items was collected and stored. Item after item brought into the space, never to leave. It was within this foundation that our class was to identify our memories through physical objects contained inside the building.

View from inside Elsewhere, looking towards the front

View from inside Elsewhere, looking towards the front

Trying to make sense of the plethora of items ranging from toys and books to clothes and luggage was challenging. I kept asking myself, how can I identify myself, my family, memories I can recall, from all of this stuff? Searching amongst everything did eventually provide me traction in advancing my memories to seemingly random physical objects. This was the underlying point of the exercise. Port keys are a name for an object, a representation that leads to a deeper meaning, in this case memories. In essence, I was looking for my port keys. Tasked with identifying objects for categories such as family, community, entertainment, ancestry, nature and discipline/career required me to look beyond their mere physical presence. Instead, looking at meaning, applying this physical object to something much more significant than in its singular form. Although I was wary of this approach on first inspection, it grew on me. At this point, I am not sure the pictures I did capture do an accurate job visually articulating meaning to the life experiences of my family and myself. Moving forward, I am hoping that I can hone in on the most expressive links between physical space, Elsewhere, and the expression of who I am as a person through memory triggers.

Who knew….all those objects do have stories to tell!

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