Hang Your Laundry in Public
As an act of Domestic Terrorism, Lois Weaver airs dirty laundry in public. The project makes literal the crossing of boundaries between private and public, and engages audiences with questions of what and why we hide. This project is one of several to deal with laundry as a political theme. The intimacy and materiality of washing is also a social marker of class and gender. It can disclose the population and income of a household. It reveals personal taste and bad habits; betrays acts of insurrection and indiscretion. How laundry is hung can be a statement of pride or an expression of modesty. It can elicit shame or shelter the good in good dreams. It can be a form of communication between neighbours, a violation of housing codes in certain communities or perceived as a national threat in times of national insecurity. The act of hanging laundry is a daily yet resonant gesture that holds the memories of mothers’ hands. It’s a local ritual that translates globally in both rural and urban landscapes.
In 2011, as part of Art in Odd Places, Weaver staged Domestic Terrorism: Hang Your Laundry in Public on the streets of New York. In the persona of a Lady in Red, Weaver made a daily ritual of hanging laundry and engaging passersby in conversation. Audio recordings and photographs (by photographer Lori E. Seid) from these interactions were placed alongside the airing laundry in a growing public installation. This gentle disruption of the everyday was a generative act of dialogue on the nature of what is public and what is private.