Suitcase

2023-Ongoing

Participating artists: Adrian Tizóc Marshall González, Ating Weng, Jonas Mueller-Ahlheim, Misha Poklad, Moakshaa Vohra, Sayera Anwar

As an adventure or as an exile, the experience of traveling arouses different feelings in individuals. “Suitcase,” the name of a tool for tourists to handle personal belongings, is also the name for a portable exhibition that displays works by six artists.


What’s in the “Suitcase”?

(Top-Left Drawer)
Moakshaa Vohra, "An Exercise in Remembering"
2023, 15 paper cards, 5x3 inches each

   
    During a trip back to India, the artist realized that traveling or migration would inevitably shape the individual’s memories of family and friends. Back in Chicago, she sends questionnaires to her family and friends, asking them to describe her physical attributes and list the approximate time and location they last saw her. By compiling each anonymous response into a card, Moakshaa’s work becomes a library archive waiting for viewers to read and picture the person in mind.

    

(Left-Middle Drawer)
Adrian Tizóc Marshall González, “Hierarchies”
2023, VHS video on OLED screen (1.5x2x1 inches), a miniature plastic ladder (5x2x1 inches), and external battery (1.6x4.9x3.7 inches)

    Adrian encountered an abandoned space in Chicago and transferred the photo he took into a video in VHS format. In the glitching video, a giant ladder occupies about one-fourth of the whole picture, with several ladders scattered in the distance. Born and raised in Arizona, Adrian always feels the haunting of the past, the influence of Hispanic culture, and the legacy of colonialism on society. The room of ladders is a metaphor for hierarchy and alienation one may counter during travel, migration, and cultural exchange. But the abandoned space also implies a possibility of future change, waiting for someone to discover and transform the previous hierarchies.


 

(Bottom-Left Drawer)
Sayera Anwar, “Bachpan Ka Mela (Childhood Street Festival)” & “Karkhana (The Factory)”
2020, video, 03:25 2022, video, 02:15  

    In the “Bachpan Ka Mela (Childhood Festival),” the artist’s 80-year-old Nani (grandma) tells her story of visiting a festival as a child with her cousins in Jalandhar in India–their hometown at that time. However, Nani was forced to migrate to Pakistan with her family as Muslims because of the Partition. She has not visited her childhood home since then. The other video, “Karkhana (The Factory)” (2022), presents Sayera’s mother’s memory of a village in Kasur, Pakistan. There used to be a factory surrounded by vast fruit fields owned by a prominent Hindu businessman. However, the factory was abandoned after the owner was forcibly returned to India and took parts of the machine with him. Both videos by Sayera narrate distant memories of the homeland and reveal the ongoing influence caused by migration.


 

(Top-Right Drawer)
Ating Weng, “Cathedrals”
2023, paper, saddle-stitch book of 56 pages, 4x8 inches


    Ating Weng’s photography book “Cathedrals” studies the architecture she encountered during her journey in different cities such as Prague, Tianjin, Indianapolis, Ngawa, Dresden, Bratislava, Vienna, Guanajuato, etc. The architectures were automatically categorized into an album called “cathedrals” in the artist’s cloud drive. The work is a humorous typological research of the spaces one may encounter during transregional movements. It also questions the accuracy of human impressions and categorizations of external sceneries.

Click to view how the artist describes her work

      
(Right-Middle Drawer)
Misha Poklad, “misprint” & “codec”
from book series “APP: Analogue Processing Poetics”
2023, paper, accordion book, 5x5 inches each folded

    Misha Poklad presents two accordion books on the middle shelf, “misprints” (2023) and “codec” (2023). The artist is interested in cultural encoding and digitalization. There is a blueprint of a series of imaginary machines on one side of each book. Viewers can see a flow chart on the back side explaining the mechanism. Misha’s works are allegories that remind viewers of the potential misinterpretation of human activities through standardized procedures.

Click to view how the artist describes his work
(Bottom-Right Drawer)
Jonas Mueller-Ahlheim, “local painting”
2023, house paint, monochrome painting in drawer, approximately 8.5x5 inches


    The work “local painting” (2023) by Jonas Mueller-Ahlheim demonstrates travelers’ spirits in escaping the status quo. When “Suitcase” travels to a new place, a new layer of paint will be poured into Jonas’s drawer, and some paint may overflow and drip out of the drawer. Jonas wants to break the system “Suitcase” itself and encourages co-authorship in his work. Anyone else can add other layers of paint when “Suitcase” is moved to other places. This work is a monochrome painting that changes its color along with the journey of “Suitcase.”
Click to view how the artist describes his work