20,000 printed and die-cut recycled paper, inkjet print on index cards, glue, marker, repurposed household shelves
Each suitcase: 3.875″ x 3.125″ x 1″
Remarkable Presence is an immersive art installation and AR experience featuring small, paper suitcases that represent each COVID death in Arizona. Over 40 of these suitcases were turned into pop-up suitcases, created from obituaries of COVID victims in Arizona. Several of these were made for victims known to myself or friends of mine. As each one opens, a burst of the person’s life and memories expands into space.
As of November 2021, over 21,600 people in Arizona have died of COVID-19. They were people with family and friends, children, pets. People who mentored others and changed lives. They are gone, and all of their belongings and memories are left with the people involved in their lives.
During the COVID pandemic, as my own sister was dying of cancer, I began going through her belongings. There were objects, mementos, projects half-done and work from the past, tucked away in boxes and suitcases. All of these things she kept were now mine to decide on what to keep, give to friends, donate, recycle or put in the trash.
I imagined all of the things my sister owned and had ever created being packed tightly into a suitcase and then bursting out of it when opened.
As Arizona came to lead the world with the highest COVID-19 infection rate, over a hundred people were reported dead each day. For each one of those people, there was another family devastated who was faced with going through their loved-one’s belongings and making decisions.
I decided I needed to make something that represents and honors each one of these individuals. The paper suitcases created for this project represent every person in Arizona who has died from COVID. The pop-up suitcases include obituaries from Arizona where COVID was listed as the related cause of death. Concurrent with the initial installation of this work were several “Collective Grieving” events where the community could attend and receive a paper suitcase to honor someone. In exchange, they only had to agree to tend to their memory.
For more information on this project, please visit the project website.