“Alternative Labels Project”
Sit on Jane Addams’s bed, drink tea and read.
Set up an appointment to visit Hull-House Museum’s “Alternative Labels Project,” and you get a half-hour to sit in Jane Addams’s bedroom—on her actual bed, should you choose—and read the label to her medicine kit while being served tea. For this exhibit series, the museum asked artists to reinterpret the ordinary pedagogical texts that identify artifacts. In this iteration, feminist performance artist Terri Kapsalis wrote a label (really, a bound essay) on Addams’s mysterious medicines, her chronic health issues and her one-time doctor, the infamous “rest cure” prescriber S. Weir Mitchell. While Kapsalis has written an engrossing essay, she has also created a transformative experience: I read quietly in Addams’s bedroom and watched the sun make patterns on the wall just as a frequently bedridden woman might have done 100 years ago.