project image
Sarah Romo

first performed on February 07, 2020
performed five times in 2020


Ann Arbor, MI


““Lost Broom Found”” was a durational performance provoked by a relic from a past performance, and part of “What Remains” at Dfbrl8r’s former home in Noble Square.

Investing a seemingly ordinary push broom with a plausibly invented expansive backstory, “Lost Broom Found” established a lineage between early 20th century immigrants and anarchists on Chicago’s West Side, through subsequent demographic shifts, displacements, and gentrification. The past life of this broom returned to the present through the creation of a real invented enterprise (Eagle Broom Co., complete with uniformed workers, paper broom labels, and a living installation of real brooms being made) and the performance of an artisanal act in the form of “handmade in Chicago brooms” in a gallery. “What Remains” explored the connection between performance and relic. Instigator and artist ieke Trinks conceived of a curatorial project that would speak to the challenges of keeping records of live performances beyond the dominant and didactic lens of video and photographic documentation and structured around proposals from artists to re-interpret relics in the Dfbrl8r object archive and provide a framework for reconceptualizing their value and meaning through new works.

During the performance, I built and staffed a storefront broom tying operation. Complete with uniformed broom makers, each sporting the logo of the real Eagle Broom Company. We made close to 70 hand brooms over the course of 3 days and engaged audience members in the semi-fictional narrative of the past and present of a singular and iconic broom relic, its connections to neighborhood history, anarchists in early 20th century Chicago, neighborhood change and displacement.

Taking cues from “What Remains,” “Lost Broom Found” tackled several questions, including: What impact does history have on a performance object’s status? What value does an object have when it is not specifically an artwork itself, or not intended to be, but is now being framed as such? How much will the relic tell us about the performance for which it was originally used? What is the purpose and value of the object? At the end of each performance, the original broom was used to sweep away the detritus.