Five hand embroidered pillowcases
Group exhibition: Sleeping with a Vengeance, Dreaming of a Life
Location: Yellow Brick Studio, Athens, Greece
Curator: Ruth Noack
In the Language of Interrupted Sleep is an evolving archive of altered pillowcases. Each pillowcase is embroidered with a fragment of an official law or mandate that relates to the right to sleep; knowingly or unknowingly outlining whom is allowed to rest where, how, and under what conditions.
The choice of text in each pillowcase rests on the proposition that there are similarities to be found between the cryptic language of dreams and the abstract language of the law. The result is as if one read a piece of legislation to herself, slept on it, then had it appear to her in a dream in altered form. As abstruse as the text segments are, however, they are not hallucinated but taken from actual legislation, whose ambiguities have real consequences. Interpretation of dreams, considered to be open-ended and esoteric practice, is merged with interpretation of the law, falsely presumed to be an objective and didactic affair. For it is often not the laws themselves that keep us up at night, but the uncertainty of where we stands in relation to them under shifting circumstances and governments. Sleeplessness is materialized through the repetitive act of embroidering into the night.
The uncomfortable tension between an intimate private realm of sleep and a public realm of legislation is exacerbated when deeply personal concepts such as “harassment” and “good moral character” are reduced to bureaucratic speech. The pillowcases are set hanging in the open air, giving reference to the idea of “airing out your dirty laundry”. Cliché texts often embroidered on linen such as “Welcome Home”, are replaced with texts that situate our private concerns inside the public sphere.
(photos by Sanne Kabalt)