And Some Are Hidden in Plain Sight

And Some are Hidden in Plain Sight

Hidden in Plain Sight

Some failures are celebrated in society today as the engine of creativity. Other failures; however, are ones we feel we must keep to ourselves, often hidden from even our closest confidants. And Some Are Hidden in Plain Sight is an installation space where diverse persons could share experiences, have fun and–for some–have a sense of recognition; and, perhaps even catharsis from their own personal experiences.


Creator Rachel Parish worked with Duke University faculty and students for over a year to create the instillation–set up like a crowd-sourced gallery.  It was composed of three spaces.  The first was public, external, and spoke to the failures we celebrate—the kinds we talk about in job interviews or share with our children as “character building events.”  The second and third invited public and private examination of the failures that we don’t share–those of which we are ashamed–the ones that are hidden in plain sight.

Visitors entering the first interior space found, taped to the walls, statements recalling others’ failures. This shared catalog of experiences could be examined before visitors moved into a smaller, private space.  There, a “declaration station,” composed of a small table and writing materials, posed the question “What is a failure you have never shared with anyone before?”  Visitors added their stories to the walls, or privately reflected on their own experiences.

The space itself was created from material that is often used, but seldom acknowledged, including recycled note paper, magazines and copious amounts of industrial plastic wrap! Rachel led students through a week of building and animating the installation.  Tours and other activities promoted engagement and understanding among visitors.  At the close of the installation, during dismantling, a man turned off the road and drove on campus to talk with the group.  “Keep on doing what you’re doing,” he said expressing how much he enjoyed the space.  “This kind of work is disruptive in all the right ways!” he said before leaving.

Duke University East Campus, USA