Packing is weird. It can be tedious, boring, and yet stressful as you want to make sure that you don’t forget (say) All Your Socks. There were many such “interesting” scenarios I could imagine going into the two weeks in my single room (underwear? chargers?), so I was very very careful not to forget anything. (I didn’t.)
On the other side packing introduces an interesting and interestingly deep question: For which items do you want to use the little space in your baggage that’s not dedicated to “useful” stuff? Let’s call these things “artifacts.”
Artifacts are fascinating. Of course there’s a market for things – just go to Pinterest and you’ll see. But artifacts are not mere things, their value comes from what they mean to specific person, the memories you attach to them, their soul (). They are what makes a room your room. They are the piece of “home” you can bring somewhere else.
What makes an artifact an artifact is also the rituals around it. Maybe it’s a short look and conscious breath in the morning with which you greet a photo. Maybe it’s the three minutes it takes to water a plant. Maybe it’s the 15 minutes you spent with That Journal You Bought During That Weekend In Lisbon. This is why true artifacts are not nick-nacks, however expensive or cheap they were: You still see them.
The most important artifact I brought into that hotel was my camera. Our love was still young, I bought it a few days earlier. “Is a camera an artifact?” you might ask. After all it’s not useless. But for me it was an artistic tool, and thus like art not defined by how useful it is. I brought the camera not for the photos, but the photo-taking, I wanted the practice to shape the experience.
This is why I would describe the genre of this two-week project as “existential photography.” Photography was the tool through which I reflected life during that time. No, it was life – in the way that it created Living that wouldn’t be lived otherwise; in the way that it created a material Other for my life to relate to, just as a conversation might spark something that was there all along but that was also hidden before.
What are the artifacts in your life?