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  • Diane Gerrard

Bed Posts

Bed Posts

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.

Gonzales Torres image of an empty bed ea6d523b2a1a3fb6efdbcb1574fc4156f07c5ed0

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 6.Untitled-1-Bed-500x632

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).

my bed

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.

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