Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Michael B

Posted in History, Institutions, Mental Health, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 29/07/2015

This is what is left of the handle on one side of Michael’s large trunk.  Sadly, there is only a tiny remnant of the original Willard tag attached to a string, so there is no information about the date he arrived.  But there is a ton of very interesting material in the collection, which I am really looking forward to photographing next Tuesday.

I will be doing a longer post with lots of photos next week. Until then, thanks for following.

5 Responses

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  1. marketing4introverts said, on 29/07/2015 at 1:32 pm

    Looking forward to seeing more! dhyan

  2. Mema said, on 29/07/2015 at 8:44 pm

    One of your prior suitcase finds: a simple note that included a bunch of routine tasks and single -line mention of the person’s birthday still sticks with me. The work you’re doing is so fascinating…the notion that we in our modern times can summarize and possibly even know a person simply by the contents of their luggage. It touches upon the audience’s morbid curiosity, wish to define and categorize others, our prejudices, the issues concerning handling the mentally ill (which is still so relevant today). Then, by photographing them, you are asking the viewer to observe, reflect on their own sense of mortality–What precious objects would they take with them or become their story, a relic of a life left behind? Striking and endlessly interesting. I can’t wait until the next installment. Thank you for your keen eye…as a writer, this art just makes my brain explode.

    • joncrispin said, on 30/07/2015 at 9:26 am

      Mema, thanks so much for your comment. It is always so gratifying to hear from folks that understand what I am trying to do with the project. All best in your work, and please feel free to stay in touch. Jon

  3. Barbara S. said, on 05/08/2015 at 7:14 pm

    I have been following the suitcase photos. I can’t wait to see what is in this suitcase. Sometimes I imagine what the person must have been thinking about coming to the institute. Were they frightened? or were they relieved to be out of the public society that maybe misunderstood them? were they lonely? or were they put at ease knowing that others around them were facing their own private battles with life? Did they remain the same person there full of fears and torments that they may have been before they came? or did coming there mean “coming home” and being able to really be themselves? Perhaps it was a time of reflection and observation of others which led to them focusing on others and their needs. Perhaps even giving them a new purpose in life. The contents of the suitcases reveal the person’s life before they arrived, and what they must have been like before; but more than that, it reveals the inner soul of the person. What made them happy, what made them feel comfortable, what made them feel complete– which were their “Memories”…we all have them and the older I get, the more I tend to surround myself with the things that will entice and remind me of happier times and sometimes hurtful times, but it is the memories that draw me. I think that is what I see in the suitcases…memories belonging to those that put their few precious possessions into a trunk or suitcase and carry it away with them to a new life…perhaps even a new purpose in life…perhaps a new hope even.

    • joncrispin said, on 07/08/2015 at 2:13 pm

      Dear Barbara, Thank you for such a great and heartfelt comment. Your questions are all ones that I have thought of during the almost 5 years I have been shooting the suitcases. I started this project with absolutely no expectations as to how much impact it would have on people who viewed the photographs, so I am continually surprised by responses such as yours. All I can say is thank you for taking the time to write and thank you especially for your insight. All best, Jon


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