the thing


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The box that  The Thing Quarterly  subscribers received in the mail.

The box that The Thing Quarterly subscribers received in the mail.

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Billie Jean King at home holding The Thing, 2013.

Billie Jean King at home holding The Thing, 2013.

 

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Commissioned by The Thing Quarterly to produce a limited edition household object with text, I made a door stop. It is as solid rubber wedge etched with a letter written to tennis Star Billie Jean King, dated 1973. I tried to recreate from memory the exact words I wrote in a fan letter to Billie Jean King the night she beat Bobby RIggs in the “battle of the sexes,” which I had watched on a black and white 11” tv with my family. By chance, a friend with a paying gig alongside BJK was able to bring her The Thing, and BJK sent me this photo and a kind note of thanks.


Sept 20, 1973

Dear Billie Jean King,

I hope you get this letter. I think you are really great.

My family and I watched you play on tv tonight. We saw you beat Bobby Riggs in 3 sets. WOW. You won! I am really, really excited.

I am not an aspiring tennis player, But you are my inspiration because you are so strong. You are so passionate about equality for girls and women. You won that match for me and for everyone who cares about women's lib.'Thank you. You are so great.

Keep on fighting!

Dodie Bellamy writes in her 2010 essay Unknown/Untitled:  

“Walsh has morphed her girlhood ephemera into a weighty, gaudy monument that pulls all eyes toward it, a sort of time machine that reaches backwards, assuring young Anne that yes she is special, that yes, where others fail, she will survive.”