By chance I had been reading about artists have used unmade beds to illustrate their concepts. Initially I thought I would write about a few who had caught my attention, however, after a little further research I found that there are many artists who make works about beds and so I may well return to this theme again later. For now here are two plus my own contribution!
Tracey Emin’s “My Bed” (above) is a 3D re-construction of her unmade, dishevelled, bed. She made this in 1998 during/after her emotional breakdown and breakup/separation from her boyfriend. The work has an idiosyncratic context and narrative, but it does convey the universal concepts that “bed” can be a refuge, a hiding place, be a place of disintegration and denigration.
Two American artists who have made significant “bed” works are Felix Gonzales Torres and Tammy Rae Carland.
In 1991 Felix Gonzales Torres photographed his vacated bed and the image was positioned around Manhattan on 24 enormous billboards: (image above). It has been described as a “powerful juxtaposition between public and private spaces .… exposed most intimate spaces”. For Gonzales Torres art was a means of addressing social concerns, he was gay and the vacated bed had been shared with his lover. Although as with Emin’s bed there is the strong personal narrative, various commentators have attributed to the work the universal associations of comfort, vulnerability, intimacy, loneliness and loss.
Tammy Rae Carland’s series of 13 photographs of Lesbian Women’s beds (recently vacated), were started in 2000 and all are 40 x inches in size (above is one of the images). Tammy Rae talks abut her work in a video posted on the Jessica Silverman Gallery site. In it she says for her, “absence can be a potent tool for addressing representation, whether devoid of central subjects or presenting the marginalised histories of persons.” (click on the image above to go to the video).
As for my contribution, (image above), I share the same universal asociations which can impel us to think about or take to our beds, vulnerability, loss and intimacy, a place of safety, but I have not felt the need to be drawn on identity and be specific about my little drawing’s narrative or context. I leave it to the viewer to take whatever comes through my work, nevertheless some thoughts about my drawing are, it is a response to the sense of touch and envelopment offered by upheaved bedding and folds . Having drawn the image in scratchy pen and ink though, I can see the choice of medium perhaps contrasts with the nature of bedding, so may be, as well as childhood memories of keeping the world at bay, there is some intimation of “bed” being less than comfort, maybe a place of punitive banishment.