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Title:Envelope with sand from the Sahara Desert
Date Made:19th century
Materials:Sand; Paper
Place Made:North America; United States
Accession Number:  MH SK 2006.2603.INV
Credit Line:Joseph Allen Skinner Museum, Mount Holyoke College
Museum Collection:  The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College

Label Text:
From the exhibition, Lenka Clayton - Comedy plus Tragedy, Skinner Museum 75, September 28, 2021 - May 29, 2022
An aged envelope labeled “Sand from Sahara Great Desert” is displayed here with some of its contents—grains of powdery ochre-colored sand spilling out onto the vitrine. From a myriad of intriguing objects in the Skinner Museum, this small souvenir arrested Clayton’s poetic imagination and served as one of the inspirations for Remainder, the centerpiece installation that incorporates various Skinner Museum vessels and haloes of black sand.

Just as people pick up shells and pebbles at the beach, someone years ago decided to collect sand from the Sahara Desert, which spans 3,600,000 square miles across Africa. Through approximate calculations and the retitling of this object as Envelope Containing 0.00000000000000015957% of the Sahara Desert, Clayton has laid bare the comedic impossibility of trying to contain something as infinite as the vast Sahara.

deserts; souvenirs; international

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