THE SUITCASE OF CONSCIENCE
Dore Ashton is my dear teacher and a close friend for the last twenty five years.
In the summer of 2008, IVAM, The Institute Valencia d’Art Modern in Valencia, Spain, celebrated an event honoring Dore. The event was celebrated by performing an adaptation of Desire Caught by the Tail, a play written by Pablo Picasso in 1944. At the end of the play Dore had to be brought in sitting in a throne.
Invited to participate in the play I proposed to make the throne.
I made a suitcase that opens up to become a chair.
The suitcase was inspired by the suitcases of Marcel Duchamp (who also signed his works Rose Selavi, an anagram of the words Eros and Valise – a suitcase in French), it is made of Yew wood, the tree of the mythical goddess Diana, and has a hole in the middle.
Once unfolded its back is extended with the hole stretching above the height of a sitting person. This was done as a homage to John Hedjuk, my teacher who created steel chairs with a hole at their back for the conference room at the Cooper Union. “During the Spanish Inquisition”, Hedjuk tells, “a chair with a hole at the height of a human neck at its back was used to execute human beings, now by raising the hole higher it becomes an inspiration.”
The red fabric attached to the back is a reference to the Spanish tradition of bull fighting.
Following the event the director of IVAM asked for the suitcase to stay in Valencia and be part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Dore continues to be an inspiring figure in my life and only later I understood that the “Suitcase of Conscience” I made is her portrait.