On the temporary nature of the fort. / by Heather Topcik

Hotel Fort (hommage a Ian Sullivan). Grand Hyatt, Washington D.C., 2014

Hotel Fort (hommage a Ian Sullivan). Grand Hyatt, Washington D.C., 2014

This will be the last week we will be living with the fort.  Central to this whole experiment is the idea that this tiny gallery will change - everything is borrowed.  But I am feeling melancholy because we have become somewhat attached.  Not just to the image itself, but to the whole idea.  In short, we are all about forts. 

In what seems to be a rare occurrence these days, I had the good fortune to spend last weekend at a conference that included a four-day stay in a hotel.  When I told Ian I was going, he encouraged me to get into the fort-making business myself, and after spending a couple of months living with and thinking about this photo series, I couldn't resist.  When I opened the door to my hotel room, I didn't just see the two double beds, the side chair, the lamp and the decorative pillows, I saw a room full of raw materials.  So that's how I found myself the middle of the day, armed with my iPhone camera, pulling the curtains closed and stacking pillows in various ways.

 I took the first few photos and they were a kind of sad approximation of Ian's images.  Less mysterious and ephemeral,  more goofy and a little depressing, actually.  Something along the lines of "hey guys, here I am in this hotel room with my camera and some pillows" instead of creating the enigmatic landscape I was going for.   Lacking a decent camera and the skill to wield it, I had to fall back on Instagram. There's nothing like a filter to mask one's lack of photographic talent!  But here it is: my hommage to Ian's work.  The beauty of it is in the fact that I never would have thought to start rearranging my room before getting into this whole domestic museology gig - but the act of doing so was extremely fun. A little dose of creativity in the middle of a business trip.  I highly recommend it.

It has clearly had an effect on our younger child, too.  Just today she decided to construct a fort of her own right in front of our soon-to-disappear image.  Of course, kids make forts all the time, but building it right in front of the picture seemed like she was conversing with it somehow. Come Back To Me. Oh, snap!

And of course, her fort was fully functional.  She even slept in it last night...