janet grau

portable attic

portable attic

Performance, installation, 2007–2009

One of the surprising byproducts of the public attic / ausgestellter speicher project were the generous gifts I received from the families whose attics I visited, including a wonderful old handmade dollhouse. I decided to incorporate this dollhouse into a second work about attics and their owners: portable attic.

This time I took a very different approach: I asked people to describe what they had stored in their attics (without me having seen it), and then I tried to recreate those objects in miniature, without ever having met their owners or seen their attics.

The work took the form of a performance and an installation-in-progress over several days. I worked in the exhibition space itself and placed the miniature artefacts in the attic of the dollhouse when they were finished. I didn’t even take the dollhouse out of its shipping crate.

As I had done previously in public attic / ausgestellter speicher, I asked the participants to tell me why they had kept the item(s) in storage. To make it easier for them, I provided a list of possible reasons, as well as space to add new reasons if needed. These documents were on display, as were the (sadly, but also hilariously, poor quality) Polaroids taken of each item before it entered the portable attic.

"I have no idea why we keep them, because none of these things will ever be useful to us again and we honestly hate them, but they are still ours."

"An old, broken ladies' bike (defective gears, broken chain), approx. 15 years old, silver + red. The bike belonged to my niece, who took her own life last year."

I performed/displayed portable attic twice: first in the BWA Gallery, Wrocław, Poland – as part of the exhibition Zamieskanie / Sich Einrichten / Inhabiting – and then in Dresden, as part of the exhibition Ohne uns! Kunst und alternative Kultur in Dresden vor und nach ’89 (riesa efau. Kultur Forum Dresden).

Read text from the Zamieskanie exhibition catalog:

I would like to thank the kind people who took the time to describe their attic items for my portable attic. It would have been nice to meet you. But at least I got to know your stories.

WordPress Cookie Plugin by Real Cookie Banner