MAY 2006 – NO. 6
The lost glove as a useful commodity.
This is a short description of an art project started in January 2006 that currently operates in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. The Lost Glove Bank (LGB) is framed as an action and presented in an art context. Introduced as such, this short description of the project gives entrance, insofar as one is willing to engage the LGB, to an action bearing multiple meanings. Below I have described my vested interest in producing the LGB.
The production of the LGB is simple — if I find a lost glove outside during my daily routine, I collect it and bring it home. (1) At the end of every month I produce a leaflet that documents the lost gloves, the locations where they were found, and where they can be retrieved. The leaflet reads as follows:
Gloves that are found are collected and archived in a central location — a Lost Glove Bank (LGB). The LGB will advertise a monthly publication of lost gloves with a photo, brief description, and the place the glove was found. In conjunction with OPENSOURCE Art and the project OPENshop, the LGB is located at OPENSOURCE's home base. The LGB is free and open to the public, 24hrs a day. Gloves reside in the LGB for a month, after which they become "things" for OPENshop. For more information on the LGB, OPENshop and OPENSOURCE Art please visit:
12 E. Washington St.
Champaign, IL 61820
or on the web at http://opensource.boxwith.com
The LGB will organize gloves according to their "best guessed" function. This includes, but is not limited to:
Work Gloves (Yellow tag)
Winter Wear (Red tag)
Child (Blue tag)
Medical or sanitation gloves are not included in the LGB for reasons of health and safety. It is encouraged that if a medical or sanitation glove is found that you properly dispose of them while wearing the proper protection.
What I enjoy about this activity is not only its potential agency as an art project but the way it slightly complicates the understanding of a thing lost outside. The LGB operates on the simple premise that lost things found outside are much more open to interpretation than if found inside. The person who discovers a lost glove has the option of leaving it where it is, taking it, or finding a new place to put it. This process also happens inside, but typically there is a lost and found system in place inside, where regardless of the actions of the persons who pass through that space, some form of maintenance usually manages where lost things go. Retrieving something lost inside is often mediated by entrance to a space, and interaction between those in charge of the space and its lost and found system (if there even is one), which ultimately may amount to a loss of visibility for a lost thing.
The LGB is in part a reaction about how to make systems more transparent and therefore how to make things more visible. It acts either by helping to reunite a glove and its owner through advertisement or by inviting the reuse of that glove for whatever means. This assumes, however, that a lost glove is of less use in a state of loss than it is found (an understanding born of a concern for wasteful and unnecessary consumption).
I look to gloves because it is easy to humanize them. The glove has a sole purpose — to protect the hand. Gloves originate in matching pairs, and although I do sometimes find them that way, when a glove has lost its partner it somehow becomes less useful. But why should somebody buy new gloves if there are so many useful lost (used) gloves without owners? The LGB reintroduces the lost glove as a useful commodity.
The placement of the LGB is important. OPENSOURCE Art is located north of downtown Champaign, where much of the pedestrian traffic comes to and from the Time Center — a support system for the homeless men in our community. During the cold seasons it is my opinion that finding use for unused clothing such as lost gloves can better the lives of those less fortunate.
All that said, I would like to add that I am attracted to the beauty often surrounding the environments of these things lost outside; people often give these things special attention and elevate them to an eye level position, or give them an odd placement as to make them more visible to their potentially returning owners. They may place a glove upright on some sort of pole, or rest a set of keys on a building ledge or flat surface. I am captivated by these silent gestures and how they actualize empathy for others.
This is not to say that I monitor the success of the LGB by how many people find the glove they lost, but possibly on its attempt to provide a model for the use of things more readily thought of as trash.
To view the project online, please visit: www.charleshouseroderick.com
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