Deeds of Confinement

William Shakespeare spent his confinement during The Plague writing King Lear. We asked people near and far to reflect on their own
quarantine routines with the simple question: “What’s your King Lear?” Documents Bureau sent surveys to several hundred people using the USPS. We inquired about the status of deeds accomplished and hobbies acquired, and also, the state of mind of individuals at the time.

After weeks of anticipation, the pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes began trickling into our newly leased mailbox at the Wicker Park Post Office. Constrained within the lines of our forms were wide-ranging, poignant, and inspiring attestations to how people endured, thrived, grieved, reassessed, and generally survived during the pandemic.

We made spreadsheets and looked for patterns and singularities. For the exhibition, we spotlighted a selection of the deeds and made charts and other other graphics to present our unscientific results.

Deeds of Confinement was presented as part of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, an exhibition featuring the work of 100 Chicago-based artists organized by Industry of the Ordinary and presented at the Design Museum of Chicago.

At the show, we also presented the chance for attendees to complete and contribute to our growing archive of deeds.

Deeds of Confinement is a collaboration between Documents Bureau and Dud Lawson and Kent Henderson of Depression Press Mfg. and Ink, Inc. Dud has clacked with us on typewriters at various venues and distinguished himself as the only clerk of Documents Bureau to have been fired multiple times.

Read a museful commentary on Deeds of Confinement here.