Friday, November 05, 2004

Beneath the Valley of Serendipity

Things started looking up when I saw 3 people at the arrival gate in Greensboro dressed in eclectic attire, holding open, brightly coloured, tattered umbrellas, and carrying a sign that read (ticker tape style), "This isn't the country we voted for. Let's go Elsewhere." I had found my people. My gracious and amiable hosts, George, Stephanie and Josh, took me to the Elsewhere space for a tour. Things were really, really looking up.

Elsewhere is like a dream come true; exactly like I imagined only a bazillion times better. I'm not sure I can accurately convey how amazing it is but hopefully the pictures will help. This is no ordinary thrift store. It was run for years by George's grandmother who apparently would ask prospective shoppers what they were looking for as they entered. If you answered, "just looking," you could essentially forget about buying anything there. The store was full of Collier Brotheresque tunnels of boxes that only she could encyclopedically negotiate. When she passed away, the family, understandably overwhelmed by the sheer mass of objects, shut the doors and left it as it was. A few years later, George & his colleagues came up with the idea of running a think tank, exhibition and performance space in the thrift store.

Nothing is for sale and nothing can leave Elsewhere which immediately challenged my urge to consume because I have never seen such a comprehensive and beautiful mass of vintage clothing in my life. Not to mention literally thousands of toys ranging in age from the 1930's or older up to almost the present day. The fact that all these objects exist in one location is the magic of this project. I could spend years making installations out of this material. I know exactly where to start, but I'm not sure where to stop will be so clear.

The main floor is quite organized but but the 2, yes 2, floors above are something else altogether. Some rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floor are like Miss Haversham meets Tennessee Williams on acid. They are like "Baby Doll," "Blade Runner, " and "Se7en" all rolled into one. There's a room full of mirrors, one stacked several feet high with old army uniforms, and another full of several hundred more items of vintage clothing. As I spend more time there, I'll post photos of some of these rooms. Yesterday, I spent most of my time on the third floor, rooting through boxes and collecting objects for my installation. So far, amongst other things, I've amassed a box of ancient baby shoes, a bag of doll clothing, and a couple of '50s dresses that have seen better days. Today I'm going back in to find plastic flowers and crinoline skirts.

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