- Single-channel projection with audio
- 5 minutes 44 seconds
- Dimensions variable
WHERE TO SLEEP (2008-2015)
For the very first time, this exhibition brings together all the pieces in the artist’s most extensive series to date: Where to Sleep. Since 2008 the artist has been sleeping overnight in various iconic places for culture and the history of art. He started the series at the Prado museum, sleeping under Goya’s The Third of May 1808, before continuing it at the Alhambra in Granada, at the ARCO art fair in Madrid, at the library in the Ajuda National Palace in Lisbon and more recently at the Palau de la Música in Barcelona.
Throughout the ongoing series, the action is based on sleeping inside a space consecrated to art, something we have traditionally viewed as illegal or subversive. Underlying the simplicity of the gesture is Ampudia’s rejection of certain attitudes within the art world which are taken as givens and then accepted as conventions.
The act of sleeping has been given different connotations in the period of political unrest over recent years and the appearance of movements like 15-M, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Museums, etc., and it has become an act of resistance in itself and a declaration of intent.
On the other hand, the gesture of sleeping in a public space has always been associated with marginality and situations of transit in some “non-place”—on a long journey or a stopover in an airport—or vulnerability, all of which stand as metaphors which fit fairly well with the situation art and culture has been going through in Spain since the artist started the series.
Yet the positive attitude in Ampudia’s works is more akin to the act of dreaming, of producing ideas, of rethinking and continuing to dream of utopia, what keeps us going and against which we must adopt a political stance.
Throughout the history of art there has been a constant focus on the act of sleeping as a subversive and basic gesture when it comes to analysing our role as individuals in the construction of the social space. Ranging from the sculptures of sleeping Eros which decorated Roman villas in the Hellenistic period to The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Goya, later reinterpreted so well by the British artist Yinka Shonibare, The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli, Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening by Salvador Dalí, or the many works of his surrealist colleagues, to mention a few evident examples.
Another more contemporary historiographic example featuring Morpheus is the celebrated film Sleep, Andy Warhol’s first, where the actor John Giorno sleeps for over five hours. Tilda Swinton slept for eight hours every day in a glass vitrine at the Serpentine Gallery, in The Maybe by Cornelia Parker. Likewise, as part of their search for a new lover, the Israeli artists Gil and Moti slept in a New York art gallery in their work Sleeping With the Enemy. In The Sleepers, Sophie Calle, in turn, invites different people, mostly unknown, to sleep in her bed so that she can photograph them.
Some institutions have even agreed to be used as a kind of hotel, like the Guggenheim in New York, which a few years ago hosted the work Revolving Hotel Room by the Belgian artist Carsten Höller. For the “trifling” sum of 300 dollars (which was tripled on public holidays) visitors could spend the night in the museum. And to shift our focus to a case closer at hand, ARTIUM in Vitoria, in an initiative proposed by the art group Fundación Rodríguez, staged a collective sleepover as one of the actions to undertake a rereading of the museum’s collection.
And we have a more recent example from the Chinese artist Zhou Jie, in her exhibition last summer at Beijing Now Art Gallery in Beijing called 36 Days, in which she slept on a bed of unfinished iron wires for the duration indicated in the title of the work, including visits from her partner.
While one can inevitably associate all these examples with a certain patina of fetishism, with a titillation for sleeping in an institutional space—exemplifying the normative and conventional—it is probably more a case of a profound reflection on the nature of dreams and the way in which these are projected onto the individual; an open process that Ampudia continues in order to rethink the codes and structures of contemporary art, as well as the critical situation it currently finds itself in.
With this act he also wishes to divest himself of his artist-self to show his more immediate self, and at once to transform the space of art into a much proximate place, into a space of art closer to all, to make us feel at home. In this way he proposes a reformulation of our concept of dwelling, which, through a process of repeating the action in various iconic places, convinces the spectator that his relationship with these places should be more relaxed and that he should view them as belonging to him. Once again, it reminds us to make ourselves comfortable, that the public space belongs to all of us; and yet again, that this relaxed attitude to the temples of art is another way of rewriting history or at least of introducing new chapters…
BLANCA DE LA TORRE
DE-SCRIBE A BREATH OF AIR