Sleeping and dreaming, conception and birth, lovemaking, illness, and finally death keep most of us in bed for much of our lives. As the staging ground for the life cycle, the bed is a psychologically charged piece of furniture that can evoke countless associations and complex feelings of fear, dread, desire, vulnerability, pain, passion, nurturing, and loss. It is a concrete representation, therefore, of intimacy, sexuality, and privacy. The bed is also a theater for dreaming, a launching pad for unconscious thoughts, and the place from which the child’s imagination sets sail. Although beds have figured prominently in art of the past, in paintings by Jan van Eyck, Vincent van Gogh, Douart Manet, René Magritte, for instance, it is only since the 1980s that a significant number of artists have liberated the bed from its usual figurative context and examined it as an independent object. Embedded Metaphor examines the work of some of these artists, especially work in which the unoccupied bed becomes a forum for public statements about this most private space, thus engaging viewers in a ritual of reflection on cultural, political, and personal life.
Felshin, Nina, Embedded Metaphor, Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, 1997. 78 Pages. 10 x 10 inches, softcover. ISBN: 0916365484. $19.95