In September 2009, Alinah invited the public to make donations of personal objects which ‘had outlived their emotional shelf-life’. As part of the process she asked the givers to record the personal meaning or association the objects had for them. The Gifts highlighted the artist’s interest in how shifts in emotional context can affect the meaning of objects, their role in processes of gift and exchange and in subverting ideas around the acquisition of specialist objects within museum culture.
She initiated the project with a gift of 99 objects of her own, including items belonging to her mother, who had died in the Asian tsunami of 2004. Her aim was to gather a total of 999 objects, nine being a symbolically significant number in many ways – of completion and return. Around 450 people participated in ‘wrapping rituals’, where objects and experiences of loss and longing were shared and recorded with/by the artist on and off-site, others sent objects to the artist or the museum in the post.