[Storage]: An Installation + Performance Experiment
Participating artists: Dana Hopkins (she), Catherine Buxton, Christina W. Richardson, Dana Hopkins, Douglas W. Milliken, James Patefield, Kate Hunter, Kerry Anderson, Marissa Sophia Schneiderman, Sokvonny Chhouk, Tarra Bouchard, et al.
[Storage] is an interactive performance/installation created by a team of artists working across identity and medium to tell a story of an abandoned storage unit and Portland’s changing socioeconomic landscape.
Site-specific performance collaborative Bare Portland scoured local auctions before acquiring The Unit, piled high with items someone stowed away. Our year-long process is informed by The Unit’s contents and stakeholders in the self-storage industry. The culminating public performance/installation will engage community members in an ethnography of stuff: a story of place and displacement.
Company member Tarra Bouchard conceived of the project: find a storage unit at auction, and use the contents to create an immersive performance piece. To her, a storage unit captured the congruences in her experience of housing insecurity growing up in Central Maine, and her anxieties about displacement and gentrification in her current home of Portland. Bare Portland scoured local auctions until they found "The Unit" and bartered for it. “Sure, it’s just junk,” said the auction’s winner, as he handed the company the keys in exchange for cleaning it out.
But the empty food packages, grape stems, pill bottle sculptures, stolen mail, and vintage erotica that filled The Unit were not just junk. These items told hundreds of stories these artists weren’t sure they had the right to witness. With care, members of Bare Portland unpacked and honored The Unit and its former owner with dignity. [Storage] is the culmination of exploring both The Unit and voyeuristic impulses, ethical quandaries, and sociological questions that haunted the members as they unpacked.
The act of extrapolating a new, collective story from The Unit became the project itself. Is this a story about displacement? Mental illness? Materialism? Aging in place? [Storage] will be created and performed for the Portland community. It will be hosted at a venue in the Bayside neighborhood, where The Unit was found, as it is an artifact of the gentrification, loss, and displacement that are so alive in the neighborhood. The installation will be built with items from The Unit, and will serve as both the set for the performance and an interactive exhibit to contextualize Bare Portland's process and the myriad issues at play. A local videographer will also create and screen a short film of this multi-phase process in the exhibit.