Handing your things over to TSA at the airport sucks. Whether it's a $35 tube of mascara that you just bought, a trusty Zippo lighter dripping with sentimentality, or simply a pair of nail clippers; flights are expensive and difficult to stall, so we resign to cursing ourselves for not thinking, and reluctantly send our belongings, treasured or not, into the ever-expanding limbo for small sharp things.
Michele Pred, a Swedish-American conceptual artist, was working as a limo driver in San Francisco right after 9/11. Shuttling people to and from the airport, she would listen to their new anxieties about flying and their fresh accounts of security-line nightmares. She wanted to capture these experiences, so she asked the airport to donate the confiscated items to her new artistic endeavor. It took four months of convincing and an official liability release for Pred to finally gain access to "the metal shop," where the items are stored.
She describes the metal shop as a huge building a half mile from the terminals, with rows of dumpsters full of forfeited belongings waiting to be melted down. Pred says she literally sorted through the bins with a shovel. Over the last 10 years, she's collected over 1,500 pounds of belongings from SFO's checkpoints, combining them into stark, matter-of-fact art pieces.
Curated and put on display, the lost belongings become a kind of tangential time capsule, calmly capturing the frantic panic following September 11th. The juxtaposition of razor blades with nail clippers and mini wrenches is almost comical, but all together, it's an interesting visual quantification of the fear that saturated that moment in history. I just love the idea that each of these purely functional little artifacts tells a different story of someone on a journey who had to stop and give something up.
Michele's work will be on exhibit next month at Art Market with the Jack Fischer Gallery (booth #319), May 17 - 20. Mark your calendar and keep an eye out for your long lost cuticle scissors. It wouldn't be the first reunion Pred has been happy to facilitate.
All photos Michele Pred.