- Location: Swansea, Wales, UK
- Client: U.K. Year of Literature
- Size: 18′ x 12′
- Materials: 30 vacuum cleaners, timers, lights, paper, varnish, graphite, sound, wood, carpeting
- Artist: Mags Harries
- Collaborator: Peter Finch, poet
Vacuums & Sin Eaters
The Demon Trap was an installation art piece that was partly inspired by the old Welsh tradition of the Sin Eater. The Sin Eater was hired at funerals to absorb through salt and bread the sins of the deceased. With the main fabrication plant for Hoover Vacuum Cleaners in the nearby town of Merthyr, the idea of sucking out demons with vacuum cleaners became a humorous parallel to the Sin Eater. The vacuum cleaners were wired together so that they would switch on and off in unison. Their bags filled with air as if they were sucking out demons and then together let out a giant exhale.
The inspiration for the literary aspect of this installation was the Jewish tradition of confounding demons by breaking down words and language. Welsh poet, Peter Finch, contacted poets, writers and artists in the UK to participate in this project by sending in postcards listing their personal demons. He broke down the structures of the words from these lists to create a spell that was recorded and performed as part of the installation. The walls are plastered with deconstructed words and part of the spell’s introduction is burnt into the carpet on which the vacuum cleaners sit. Viewers were encouraged to leave post-it notes of their sins in the space.