The residency in Cowwarr is a meditative time during which I walk along the neighbouring rail trail every day. The image of the suitcase is prominent in this reverie. I am reading The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp by T.J. Demos. During the Second World War, Duchamp spends time in the south of France, continuing to work on 'La boîte-en-valise'. Walter Benjamin tries to flee across the Spanish border, with a case full of manuscripts. Without an exit visa he is threatened with return to occupied France. He commits suicide in his hotel room.

 

I can recall the suitcases at the Jeparit Historical Society: full of belongings of those no longer living. Wendy Zanker is the only remaining member of the Society: all the others have passed away. She says she is struggling to keep on top of cataloguing and archiving all the artefacts that are donated.

 

Wendy is keen to show us the council offices including the conference table that is going to be sawn in half and moved, out the window, to Nypo. On the walls are portraits of all the council officers (including Robert Menzies, from Jeparit). There are many blank spaces because the families have asked for the portraits back when they move away from the area. 

Later in Jeparit, Dianne and Mrs Preston talk about mutual acquaintances and about their own family histories. They also exchange information on children and grandchildren. Mrs Preston asks me if I have any siblings. I said not. She asked if my parents couldn’t face having any more children (joking) and I told her that my mother couldn’t have any more children after having me. “Well,” she said, “They must feel very blessed to have you.”

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