The Bay Area has been the epicenter not only of natural events such as earthquakes but also of numerous political and social movements. From the hippies to the gays, the diggers to the cockettes, and the Black Panthers to the Foodies — each of these groups used or continues to use the shaky grounds on which we walk as both a soapbox and platform for ideas, performance, and social change.
As a way to keep our footing in this revolutionary and unpredictable terrain, this project asks participants to construct their own personal survival kits and to consider the contents within them. What are the items you can’t live without? What are the items that you think other people should not live without? How does the form or shape of the box reflect the content within the box? What do these objects ultimately say about you as a person, or about your own personal narrative/history? Remember, you need not think literally about merely those items that one would need to sustain physical life. Each kit should be just as idiosyncratic as the maker who constructs it.
Housed within each of these kits should be a manifesto, a way to suggest the importance and urgency of your newly made kit. Envision a reason why we might need the kit or why the particular items within it are necessary for the kind of events that might anticipate the kit.
Here are some steps that may be helpful to you in creating your survival kit:
- Go out to a thrift store or estate sale or around your neighborhood and collect a series of objects for your survival kit. In a sense, this exercise should be done relatively quickly — you are selecting things with a sense of urgency. One might even consider emptying out the contents of your purse, handbag, or satchel to find materials for your kit, since, after all, these kinds of bags are survival kits in and of themselves.
- Make a list or drawing of the items or objects you've collected. Map each item's significance to you. Record its function and the kinds of support it provides you as an individual, e.g., physical, emotional, social, or psychological. Through this mapping exercise, make sure to establish a means of prioritizing which objects may be more important than others. Consider a possible relationship between the objects and attempt to illustrate these connections on your map. The map you produce can provide the outline for your manifesto.
- Build a means of containing your objects and your manifesto. You might consider incorporating simple sewing techniques, or using cardboard/paper/wood constructions. Think about how your map of objects and their relationships informs the materials you use to make your kit. How are things compartmentalized? How might this kit be decorated?
- Write your manifesto, and incorporate it into your kit. Remember, manifestos can take many forms, from a rant to a series of drawings. The most important aspect is that they be bold, confident, and unapologetic.