As installed around  Nebraska City, October 2006

Burlap is often used to make packaging as sacks and bags to ship goods like potatoes, corn, coffee, flour, beans, and even money.

When I think about Nebraska, I think about agriculture and land. When I think about agriculture and land, I think about food, life, money and burlap sacks.

I purchased a 100 burlap sacks and applied numerous layers of white glue on them, sculpting each one with my hands to create open containers. When dry, the sacks seemed filled up, while actually they were empty.

When spending a week in Nebraska City, at the KHN Art Residency, I went around Nebraska City, and placed the 100 empty sacks in eight public locations and one private farm. The installation caught the eye of passers-by who stopped for a conversation. In doing so, they became a part of the project. I documented the sacks and the people on film, slides and video footage.

I was seeking to introduce new visual elements to a familiar landscape. I found out that not only that the sacks had changed the sites on which they were placed but that the sacks by themselves on their expression and concept had constantly been evolved.

Placed at the shore by the Missouri River the sacks became exciting vessels filled with a spirit of adventure; On the stairs of the 1868 building of Farmers Bank they contained golden coins; By the corn fields they held the crop of a long working day in the sun; By the farm of Cathy and Jerry Smith they became a food source for the cattle; and by MRB Lewis and Clark Visitor Center they were ready to be placed inside the boat to sail in search of exotic lands.

In every site they were placed the sacks lost some of their “function” but  somehow maintained a recognizable “fiction”, suggesting a vision of a world as a continuum.

 

In this project objects and landscapes are conceived of both as discrete and stable things and as dynamic entities. They seem able to pass beyond their own physical boundaries to share some of each other’s attributes. The photos and the video, documenting the project, portray an environment where everything affects the significance of everything else, while elements, concepts and functions are constantly in flux.