About the coat check

Now, more than ever, we have a great deal on our minds. From the weight of the current political climate to every stressors like work, family, and bills, we carry our concerns with us everywhere we go. The Existential Coat Check is a pop-up booth that invites participants to check their mental baggage in order to more fully experience their surroundings. The Coat Check can be found at cultural events and institutions throughout Chicago including museums, music venues, theaters, art centers, and conservatories. Visitors of the Coat Check are invited to participate in a 2-part transition ritual, which supports a shift in mental focus from the daily grind to the experience at hand.

First, visitors are asked to respond to the following questions via drawing and writing:

What is on your mind?
What is holding you back?
What do you want to let go of?

Visitors may choose to destroy their baggage or preserve it in the Existential Archive, a growing body of drawings and writing which represents the collectively discarded baggage. Second, visitors are invited to participate in a grounding activity of their choosing. Recent grounding activities have transported participants to faraway places via natural fragrances and soundscapes, courtesy of Rustel Weiss from Deep Field Aromatics.

The Existential Coat Check will continue to pop up at events around Chicago throughout 2017 and 2018. Check out our calendar for upcoming events and locations.

If you are a presenting artist or institution interested in hosting the Existential Coat Check, please reach out on our Contact Us page.

If you are interested in being a facilitator of the Coat Check or leading a grounding/meditation activity of your own devising, please reach out on our Contact Us page.

Who we are

Aurora Tabar,
Artistic Director

Aurora Tabar is a Chicago-based performing artist and occupational therapist. Her professional and creative practices examine the process of healing and the potential for transformation. She makes dance, theater, video, installations, and participatory public actions with others, and less often by herself. She was a 2012 LinkUp artist in residence at Links Hall in collaboration with Sara Zalek and more recently presented original work at the 2017 Battles:SS3 Post-Butoh Festival (Chicago, IL) in collaboration with Bill Skaleski and Duncan Reilly. Aurora received a 2017 Individual Artist Program grant through Chicago’s DCASE for her current project, The Existential Coat Check. Aurora works at Esperanza Community Services where she supports young people with developmental disabilities to become as independent as possible. She lives on the west side of Chicago with her partner, Kevin, and their two cats.

Russell Weiss,
Perfumes, Soundscapes

Here’s a block of text about what a big ‘ol nerd Rustel is and how he may seem really cool and gorgeous, but actually everyone just thinks he smells weird.

Chad Hagedorn,
Booth Construction

Chad Hagedorn is a carpenter, furniture maker, and builder of all sorts. He loves being a dad, dancing butoh, farming, and basketball. He aspires to doubt less, connect more wholly, and detach his sense of value from his productivity. He lives in Chicago.

Special thanks

Original pattern for the Existential Coat Check created by April Noga of Prillamena. This project is sponsored, in part, by a DCASE Individual Artist Prgram grant. Special thanks to our presenting institutions and the folks behind the programming: Roell Schmidt (Links Hall), Maria Nelson and Aaron Rodgers (Hyde Park Art Center), Jessie Marasa and Kay LaSota (Chicago Moving Company). A very special thanks to Kevin Plattner for creating this website, assisting with all things design-related, and generally being a wonderfully supportive human being.