Jessica Sofia Mitrani
Lost in thought, I remain stretched on a bed, the bed in which I can write and draw and dream, when suddenly the inside of my body gives clear answers to the questions I ask myself. I hear the voice of a poet I know and admire! He recites from the depths of my own belly! And suddenly as if in greeting, this poet’s long familiar nose appears on my pillow.
—Unica Zürn, The Man of Jasmine
The bed is where life begins and where it ends. Between these two points, it is the site of dreams, of sex, of illness, and of madness. Over the past decade, the bed has frequently appeared in the work of artist Jessica Mitrani, from the pathologized bed in the performance Some Historic, Some Hysteric (2004) to the foldable trunk bed that doubles as a mobile home for the Traveling Lady (2014).
Mitrani continues this theme in the present exhibition. Projected in the gallery’s back room, La Divanee (2013) is based on the true story of the Catalan countess of Güell, Palomba Matas Mujika de Pumeral y Santiago, who reclined on a chaise lounge at the age of eighteen with the intention of never standing up again. Yet from this position she leads a full life: She writes novels, holds salons, takes lovers, and gives birth to a child. Instead of being marginalized—or objectified like the art-historical nudes she resembles—she forms a new focal point around which society revolves.
The potential stricture of the bed is apparent in Mitrani’s “Conjoined Pillows” (2014), a series of three sculptures on display in the front room of the gallery. Stiff plaster pillows are crudely sutured together with wire: two lying in a matrimonial bed; eight bunked in a dormitory, orphanage, or nunnery. The spell of these coldly identical works is broken, however, by a second series of three, titled “My Favorite Poets’ Noses.” From each of these pillows sprouts a poetic proboscis: that of a pig, a liar, and a fool.