Bedroom Show, Peter Clough room install, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph courtesy of the artist, 2015

Bedroom Show, Peter Clough room install, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph courtesy of the artists, 2015

This past spring Shelton Lindsay attended ‘Bedroom Show,’ a work comprised, produced and exhibited inside the Bushwick based apartment of artists Peter Clough, Jennifer Gustavson, Jon Huron and Amy Giovanna Rinaldi. ‘Bedroom Show,’ curated by Clough, involved each individual artist/housemate using their own bedroom as both the raw material and the stage in which they explored questions around intimacy, the home and artistic creation.

The format of the evening involved approximately 8-12 guests brought together to view the installation. We were invited to explore all of the bedroom spaces between 7-9, after which a dinner, organized by the artists in their home. Following dinner and a course of homemade coffee ice cream, we were invited to continue exploring the bedrooms. In melding the experience of the bedroom installations along with a sit down dinner, Clough, Gustavson, Huron and Rinaldi cleverly curated an event that quickly and effectively brought one into a very intimate space with the artists and other audience members.

My biggest take away from the evening, beyond a deep appreciation for each artists work, was the joy of how art, intimacy, and the bedroom can become the container for deep, all be it, transient connections.  The art was not just in the installations and the sculpture, but in the magic of an event that was curated inviting one to ask yourself questions about what would it mean to live in your art. It is hard to remove the ‘I’ from this experience for so much of it was about the dialogue had with the artists, and other visitors inside the space of their respective bedrooms. These altered spaces became the launching off point for unexpected conversations that brought the I of the individual and the I of the artist, into close proximity, allowing for moments of spontaneous co-creation. In exposing their bedrooms/home as art, and situating themselves within these rooms, the artists created a dynamic space where the materiality of their lives in conjunction with their bodies, drives and ideas became art. One had the feeling that the rooms somehow were an externalization of an internal state of mind, and that in building these spaces, we were being invited into each individual mind.

Peter Clough turned his room, into a 3 dimensions matrix made of tan wooden beams that strongly resembled a climbing gym, in style and functionality. It was fondly referred to as ‘The Grid’. It climbing through his installation one would observer all manner of personal objects, including his collection of magic the gathering cards, worn underwear and a dildo, strewn across the space.   

In making an installation that gave the audience unique vantage points into the intimate space of his bedroom, it was Clough himself that became a work of art by abstraction. All objects within the room became ‘art objects’, and told a complex narrative about the life of a person living within a space that closely resembled a cage. For Clough in particular, who is a lanky 6 foot something, the space was especially restrictive. As an artist who is often influenced by his BDSM sub sex practices, “The Grids,” construction within his bedroom, alluded to moments where his sexual desires and the domestic space of the bedroom intersect. 

The sexuality and sensuality of Clough’s work was further explored in four films played on iPods mounted to different beams around the space which showed footage of a partially clad Clough exploring and discovering the space of his own bedroom after the structure had been erected. Sweating, breathing and crawling, Clough became the sub to his own art structure which both dominated him and the space. The imposing, raw materiality of ‘The Grid” stood in stark contrast to Clough exposed and prone human body. In viewing the entire installation, with Clough’s body present with it, surrounded by the objects of his own life, one could not help but question how the material dominates and constructs the individual.

Bedroom Show, Jennifer Gustavason room installation detail, Brooklyn, Photograph courtesy of the artists, 2015

Bedroom Show, Jennifer Gustavason room installation detail, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph courtesy of the artists, 2015

Across the hall Jennifer Gustavson accumulated bodily fluids in her bedroom which brought us into a space were artistic excretion, failure and the desire to remember, challenged and invited one to look at the invisible bodily practices that constitute the construction of a home. For her work Gustavson began with the intention to bottle her piss and spit inside her room. Collapsing the boundaries between bathroom in bedroom in an attempt to make her space a record of a monthly of consumption and excretion. To this end she also kept bottles of beer she drank in the house, cigarette packets she smoked out, heads of lettuce she never consumed, and artfully placed them within the space. Yet it was a practice she admitted she often failed at. Accidentally throwing out cans of beer, absent-mindedly using the toilet, or even once, spilling her own piss mistakenly over the floor. Gustavson’s raw and bodily elements were placed among huge columns of cement, iron rods, and cardboard packages that she purposefully placed in the space, making the act of mobility, much like in Clough’s room, a challenge.

Gustavson’s work was about being uncompromisingly human. It was about exposing herself and her home through the intimate act of keeping objects and bodily excretions that we often hide from the world. The huge amount of clutter that dominated the space as well, made it hard to focus on any singular object, as there was always something that reached out and caught your eye. In over-saturating her bedroom with objects, Gustavson overwhelmed the audience, forcing them to sit within the space and slowly dissect its elements in an effort to actually understand it. Hidden amongst the real objects were also fabricated versions of the same object, such as a crumpled cigarette package made of wood, or a fake beer bottle, both lying amongst their ‘real’ brethren. In peppering these ‘fake’ objects amongst the real, Gustavson was calling into question the distinction between artifice and reality. Their entire bedroom became polarized between these intimate bodily excretions and these produced ‘fake’ objects, leaving the viewer somewhere in the middle. These moments of artifice, amongst the bodily and the personal, heightened the sensation of the real and made each moment spent within Gustavson’s room feel like an intimate interaction with the body and the desire of the artist.

Bedroom Show, John Huron room installation view, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph courtesy of the artists, 2015

Bedroom Show, Jon Huron room installation view, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph courtesy of the artists, 2015

While Clough and Gustavson, both chose to use the objects of their lived lives as the raw material for their art installations Jon Huron and Amy Giovanna Rinaldi evacuated their bedrooms of almost all contents, (besides their beds) to transform their space into one-off installation spaces. Huron’s bedroom creation was a Lenin inspired mausoleum to his younger self, mixed with a 90’s video game aesthetic.  Unlike the other works presented, Huron totally obscured the idea that his bedroom was a lived in space, preferring instead to make something that felt like a theatrical set. This theatricality was a nice counter point to the other installations in the home as it felt so fake; yet in knowing that it was the actual space that Huron has been living in for the last month, it made one question what are the expectations one has for what a bedroom is meant to be. Stripped of the cultural objects that define a bedroom, the space was alien and uncanny. Taking to heart the word ‘show’ from the work’s title, one felt that they were an actor/audience member, within a set awaiting a performance. Yet when nothing happened, and one found themselves still within the space, this bedroom-set-mausoleum began to feel like an exploration of the intersection between death and sleep. Exploring the macabre undercurrents of the bedroom as the site of the daily death and the endless progression of time. In making his bedroom a site of homage to his younger self as well, Huron was exploring the progression that sleep takes us from youth to old age.

The sterility of the space was also interesting. Its spartan nature offered a nice counter point to the object saturated rooms of the other artists. One came away feeling that unlike the others Huron’s work was not so much about himself, as it was about the abstract concepts of what the bedroom is.

Bedroom Show, Amy Rinaldi room installation view, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph courtesy of the artists, 2015

Bedroom Show, Amy Giovanna Rinaldi room installation view, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph courtesy of the artists, 2015

Within the context of three wonderfully curated spaces, the work of Amy Giovanna Rinaldi stood out as the space that was deeply troubling and entrancing. For her work, Rinaldi emptied her room of objects, and took to creating, these weird, fleshy, almost dripping objects that she hung from the ceiling and walls, letting them spill onto the floors. Rinaldi often works with harsh industrial chemicals and metals and for her ‘Bedroom Show’ piece she decided to eschew personal conventions to explore different materials, specifically ones she could work with in her room. Fabrics, old pairs of tights, bulging sacks and metal coat hangers made up many of the materials she used. The room, lit only by one singular and small light, had the feel of being deep inside the fleshy confines of Rinaldi’s body; as if she had taken the fabric of her own body and externalized it onto the walls of the space.

Touching the bulging sacks felt like a violation of Rinaldi herself and though the object, with their soft contours and fleshy colorings seemed to seduce one into tactical explorations, it was challenging to actually engage with the objects in such a way. Rinaldi’s work also involved her removing almost all of her personal objects from the room. It was this removal of the normative objects which define a bedroom that also made her space feel so much like the interior of her body. The only determinedly normal object was the bed, and with its soft duvet and  downy pillows, yet amongst all these other fleshy, fabric objects, the bed seemed both like an extension of the installation as well as a womb like cocoon that periodically housed the body of Rinaldi as she slept, bringing a layer of the personal to the objects strewn on the walls.

This work was not just about these artists, opening their homes and transformed their bedrooms into installations; it was about producing work that short circuits social conventions and produces deeply intimate moments and spaces for the audience to be in dialogue with both the bedrooms of the artists, as well as with how they perceive and create their own bedroom spaces. In looking at each of these installations, I kept coming back to the question, how do I produce my reality through the construction of my bedroom? What would it be like to trouble and transform that space? What may I learn about myself? The question might not be meant to be answered, but arriving at the inquiry, for the moment, might be enough. Experiential art is alive and well in Bushwick.