Sure, it was cool to see Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box, but what if the artist was present for some pillow talk?
That’s exactly what’s happening at a new show at Bosi Contemporary, “Come to Bed!”, which uses three queen-sized beds to focus on the different types of communication that take place under the covers. “You can sleep, you can eat in your bed, you can have sexual experiences,” said the show’s curator, Roya Sachs. “At each age, you experience it differently, which is nice because they’re all of different ages, the artists, so they have different relationships with the bed.”
Entering the all-female show, you see a bed surrounded by stacks of books. Three sets of headphones allow you hear the thoughts of Michelle Jaffe. The visual artist and sculptor wanted to evoke the idea of self-reflection that occurs when you’re lying in bed, thinking about a specific event, person or thing. In the lived-in space (the artist used her own sheets), a couple of sweaters are lying around and stacks of books are scattered all over the place, since Jaffe loves to read in bed. Strewn across the floor are pages of Jung’s Man and His Symbols. “I read it over 30 years ago, it was literally falling apart,” Jaffé told us.
Behind Jaffé’s bed are a series of calligraphic drawings — a nod to the Asian artifacts she grew up with, since her grandparents lived in China during the war.
Next comes another bed where performance artist Marta Jovanović — who was born in Belgrade, grew up in Israel, and spent a considerable amount of time between Italy and the United States — invites audience members to get into bed with her in order to engage in one-on-one pillow talk. Jovanović, who spoke with me in Italian, got her inspiration from a performance show she did in Chelsea, where she acted as a clairvoyant using coffee. “People came and told me things like, ‘My husband has a lover, I haven’t told anyone.’ They told me things things they would not tell anyone else. I became something between a priestess and a shaman,” she said.
After that, she went to Beirut where she hosted a performance show called “secret”; she sat on a chair and invited people to sit next to her and share their secrets. Jovanovic conceived her pillow talks for “Come to Bed!” to be as intimate as a post-coital bond. “Having the opportunity to talk to a stranger in a safe environment leaves you an impressive space of self-expression,” she said. After each session, Jovanovic will write something personal related to that talk on a used pillow case that will then be pinned to the walls surrounding her bed. When audience members aren’t in her bed, Jovanovic will be working, eating and watching tv in bed, within the gallery space. Her dog, named Untitled, will be her companion.
Above Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos’s bed-themed installation hovers a neon sign reading #SLEEP. “I like this idea of something holy, divine. It comes as almost an order from above,” said the Greek artist. “It gives you an order you can never satisfy, because the light never switches off.”
Kosmatopoulos works with people in Europe, s0 she knows that at 4am she’ll have a stack of emails awaiting her response. “It’s hard to emotionally let go and tell yourself that it’s ok not to answer to an email straightaway,” she said. The idea of privacy gets thwarted too: with a phone, the bedroom suddenly becomes a public space.
On the wall behind the bed are two neon constellations depicting the big and small chariot. In lieu of stars, however, Kosmatopoulos used hashtags. “Stars and stargazing are something that, from the Greek antiquity, people were doing, and often for a long time [stars] were the last thing you were seeing before closing your eyes.” These days, the last thing people see before drifting off are hashtags.
“Come to Bed” runs through April 25 at Bosi contemporary, 48 Orchard St., Lower East Side