A Percipient Rumination

Our good friend, Annie Morse, graciously pored over data contributed for Deeds of Confinement and wrote this fine essay to help frame our assorted findings.

A viewer studies the results of Deeds of Confinement during the short-lived run of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow at the Design Museum of Chicago.

King Lear: No rescue? What, a prisoner? I am even
The natural fool of fortune. Use me well;
You shall have ransom. Let me have surgeons;
I am cut to the brains.               Act IV, Scene IV

A research study was devised and its methodology determined. Data was collected, responses tallied, and a spreadsheet produced. In the process, human events were reduced to data points for comparison and evaluation. Perhaps predictably, they resisted, bursting out of digital cells in which they declined to repose, refusing to answer questions, snarking freely, cluttering the calculations with misdirection and non sequitur.

While these testimonies speak to a shared calamity, individual experiences were as torturous ­– or liberating – as our unique circumstances determined. By imposing structure on the otherwise inchoate drama of our merged anxiety, Documents Bureau comprehends what was incomprehensible.

If there are conclusions to be drawn from these stories, let us be careful to characterize them as anecdotal, as in funny, not as in unreliable. Science was supposed to save us. Reason and logic were to rescue us from madmen and their malevolence. Although our recent imprisonment may seem trivial in the shadow of enormities at home and abroad, in the end it is emotion and affection that deliver us from evil.

Annie Morse
Chicago, IL, April 2022

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.

The Climatic Cathartic Confessions Desk

Amidst the objectionable weather of February, Documents Bureau returned to 2nd Floor Rear. Our hearty clerks aided the public in producing over 150 documents some quietly attesting to personal convictions and others bellowing defiant statements against life’s annoyances.

New this year was The Climatic Cathartic Confessions Desk. Behind our red curtain we offered intensive therapies to help visitors shake off seasonal affective disorder. Fortunes were invoked by Miss Annie and her famous W.A.S.P. divinations and Remedios served as spiritual guide rousing weary winter travelers to revolt against “dibs” and other winter iniquities.

Special thanks to I Am Logan Square gallery.

Here are the fabulous clerks and guests who were on hand

Clerks: Lissette Bustamante, Caitlin Devitt, Paul Durica, Bryant Godinez, David Gries, Henry Harris, Marianne Joyce, Karolina Kowalczyk, Jeff Michalski, Chris Molina, Lili Mugnier, Allison Muscolino, Daniela Perez, Jennifer Pham, Kat Seno, Matt Stone, and Georgina Valverde

Special Guests: Perry Cowdery playing melodica, Miss Annie (a.k.a. Annie Morse) giving W.A.S.P. Divinations, Marcos Herrera at the CCC Desk, and Captain Chicago who signed autographs and formed our security detai