Walking All Over Sky
2019, Lucky Inn Hotel, New Orleans
Walking All Over Sky is the result of Daniel Miller’s participation in the Lucky Art Fair in New Orleans. Lucky Art Fair was originally intended as an interdisciplinary group exhibition located at the Lucky Inn Hotel; a shuttered hourly motel in Mid City, New Orleans. Each artist was given one of the rooms of the motel in the abandoned building and tasked with creating a piece. Using entirely found materials, and with the assistance of frequent collaborator Christopher Givens, Daniel Miller created a collage of red childrens clothes in long strips set in the ceiling, looming over a sculpture formed of wood from a local house fire, depicting a not-quite-large enough bed, set off kilter and floating above a sloped field of blue chip bags, cereal boxes and other plastic refuse. Portholes were drilled into the walls partitioning the bathroom of the room and the exposed sheetrock was lined with discarded scraps of a local artists paintings. The bathroom door remained closed, but, viewed through the portholes in the wall, the bathroom itself was filled to a two foot level with charcoal rendered from the wood that formed the bed, and various children’s toys were nestled in amongst the charcoal. Finally, a zine was produced, which gathered photos of the piece and the Lucky Inn Hotel itself with three short essays detailing lived moments told from competing perspectives. The zines were then placed on a small display rack next to the explanatory placard on the wall, to accompany the experience of the room.
Thematically, Walking All Over Sky was an examination of the often contradictory relationship between lived memory and secondhand history. In their contemporary state, the objects and location that formed the piece set implications toward a myriad of emotionally charged contexts. The room dripped with a sense of life experienced, a future of potential and a full-bodied nostalgic pain.
In conceptualizing the piece, one of the first images that was raised was that of a room full of tall grass, to represent the bewildering feeling of spending ones first night in a new city and life in a cheap motel room. The goal was to imbue the room with the feeling of being lost between the severed conclusion of past human life and the ripe onset of a waiting future. A space full of the potential of context and yet free of context itself; an illustration of the knack that a human mind has both to interpret history freely and to grope wildly for firsthand knowledge.
How fitting then that after three months of planning, negotiation, accumulation and construction, the piece was stripped away from its potential to reach an audience. The legal department of the property management decided that the Lucky Art Fair had grown too large, and to avoid liability would need to be moved away from the Lucky Inn Hotel itself to a larger lot across town. At this point, Walking All Over Sky had already been completed and was structurally attached to the room itself, and thus could not be moved. So as a construction crew demolished the building around the fully completed installation, Walking All over Sky seamlessly passed from the lived experience of Daniel Miller, its single audience member, into a state of unverifiable history, while the component parts of the room itself impassively underwent another total contextual transformation.
Above are shots of the installation, below are the full pages of the accompanying zine.