Sophie Calle, The Sleepers, 1979.

“I asked people to give me a few hours of their sleep. To come and sleep in my bed. To let themselves be looked at and photographed. To answer questions. To each participant I suggested an eight-hour stay. I contacted 45 people by phone: people I didn’t know and whose names were suggested to me by common acquaintances, a few friends, and neighborhood residents whose work called them on to sleep during the day (the baker, for instance.) I intended my bedroom to become a constantly occupied space for eight days, with sleepers succeeding one another at regular intervals. Twenty-nine people finally accepted. Of these, five never showed up: an agency baby-sitter and I took their places. Sixteen people refused either because they had other commitments or the thing didn’t agree with them. The occupation of the bed began on Sunday, April 1, at 5 p.m. and ended on Monday, April 9, at 10 a.m. Twenty-eight sleepers succeeded one another. A few of them overlapped with each other. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner was served to each depending on the time of the day. Clean bedsheets were placed at the disposition of each sleeper. I put questions to those who allowed me—nothing to do with knowledge or fact-gathering, but rather to establish a neutral and distant contact. I took photographs every hour. I watched my guest sleep.”

For Calle, according to Erik Morse, “the bed is also a space of feminist politics. Rather than maintaining the sanctity – and invisibility – of the bed as a site for domesticating sex, they bring it into public space and view. ”

“This act of recontextualization is echoed in comparable bed pieces by Louise Bourgeois (Femme Maison, Woman House, 1994); Tracey Emin (Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–95, 1995, and My Bed, 1998) and Cornelia Parker (The Maybe, 1995/2013).”

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