This project originated in a high school experience, when I traveled on an overnight train from Paris to Prague, sharing my sleeper compartment with an elderly Polish gentleman who was going back to receive his compensation after surviving the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. At my request, he shared memories of this experience and also told me about things his family and others had told him about their time in the camp. He was the only survivor in his family. After our conversation, he bade me goodnight and went to sleep soundly.
I was the person who was not able to sleep, realizing that, years ago, there were people traveling on these kinds of nights, possibly on the same track, who would not live until morning. It is only after all these years that I am able to create a project in response to the emotions I experienced that night.
In The Sleeping Project, I examine the differences between "sleeping" and "sleeping with." How do two strangers shape a night together into an open, profound, mutually influential encounter that they know will not be sexual?
Each night, a participant chosen by lottery is asked to bring objects from the space in which they usually sleep--a clock, a photo--and spend the night with me. Next morning, the participant leaves these objects on the nightstand, along with a tape of the conversation from the previous night. During the remainder of the exhibition, these personal objects and recorded voices provide gallery visitors with clues about the interactions between myself and the anonymous overnight guests, interactions that suggest the range of ways in which individuals experience intimacy and trust when confronted with an unknown other.
2015 Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
2000 Lombard-Freid Gallery, New York