The Weight of an Object is a public, interdisciplinary project involving three performances in downtown Lawrence, KS. It is designed to give participants the opportunity to feel the physical weight of the history of an object. This project consists of many components including; a moveable storefront, research on specific objects, videos discussing how the objects were made, and performances incorporating all of these elements. Damia Smith received a Rocket Grant to fund this project.
The structure is an acrylic form set on wheels, which resembles a small storefront in the front and morphs into a more industrial building in the back. The display area in the storefront features an actual object, which many members of the community likely own. The items being used include: an iPhone, a pair of TOM’s shoes, and a KU t-shirt.
Participants are encouraged to touch the object and pull it out of the display area, but as they do so, they will realize that the object is attached to the structure by an expanding knitted form. If they try to wear or hold the object and move away from the area, they will have to pull the entire structure, which contains facts about the working conditions of the people who made the item and the materials used to produce the object.
A video showing images of the object being made, as well as, people from the community talking about what they know about how the object was made is projected on the back of the structure.
This project is meant to enhance public understanding of how consumer goods are produced. Hopefully, it will start a dialogue in the community about where the objects many people own originate. To achieve this, it draws attention to the processes that occur to generate a product and how they affect the people who make them and those who live in the areas that produce them. The goal of this project is to connect objects worn and used everyday without a thought to the conditions of people in faraway countries who work so these items can be produced.