Monday, December 3, 2018

Sacramento Journal: the Samson Luggage Sculpture

"The Samson Luggage Sculpture" by Brian Goggin (photo: Francis Levy)
If you repair to the baggage claim area at Terminal A in the Sacramento Airport, you will come upon the "Samson Luggage Sculpture." It’s actually two 23 feet-high pillars made up of over 700 valises. The artwork was created by the sculptor Brian Goggin in l998 and the arcane term for a suitcase actually is the most adequate way to describe this agglomeration of beaten up and abandoned pieces—that might remind you of weather worn faces and purportedly represent the entire period of modern air travel. The towers sit in white bins of the kind one sees in airports and anyone who has ever experienced a sinking feeling when the carousel has stopped and their luggage is nowhere to be found will derive a catharsis in this vertiginous version of the lost or unclaimed baggage depot. It’s a little like the straphanger in The Kingston Trio’s “MTA” with the lyrics being changed from “did he ever return?” to “will it ever return?” If you have ever been permanently separated from your belongings, it might be worth scouting out this artwork next time you're in Sacramento, to see how these orphans have been inadvertently canonized. In reality, you might never have gotten your valuables back, but might find your suffering has been requited as part of a universal experience that finally contributed to the making of a work of art. Loss is, of course, the subject and Vittorio De Sica may have had a similar impulse toward restitution in his famed Bicycle Thieves (1948) which dealt with the disappearance of the title object in post-war Rome.

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