For most of us, our beds are cocoons of versatility; the place we go to seek refuge and comfort, for romance and intimacy as well as for much needed rest and contemplation. I sip a glass of water in the apartment of Elisabeth Mladnenov, a Finnish artist who, after too many years of dark Scandinavian winters, came to Berlin in search of a more consistent stream of sunlight. Paintings lie scattered across the floor; she is preparing for her upcoming exhibition In Bed. In this latest series Elisabeth conveys the idea that in bed we are granted the freedom to float freely between the past, present and future; we become lost in a web of daydreams and memories until perhaps no tangible difference can be made between the two. Within her work a delicate sensitivity radiates from each canvas, touching and intimate we see her figures at their most vulnerable, in their most personal of spaces. I asked Elisabeth to fill me in on DRAW, the event at which her work will be on display and to tell me what being in bed means to her:
BAPS: Do you think that you see a very different side to people when they are in bed?
EM: Certainly. Being in bed brings forth something strongly human in a person. One is stripped of the facades of social etiquette and of cultural and behavioral codes. It is an intimate, uninhibited state of being. The inactivity of it allows us to process and rearrange ourselves and our understanding of the world.
The various states of mind one experiences when alone and awake in bed are often wordlessly recognizable, from person to person or image to viewer. This relatability first inspired my interest in the theme. On the other hand the unique character of each of my subjects also communicates a distinct, singular mood in every piece. I like the oscillation between the intimately personal and the relatable and shared.
BAPS: Do you ever have trouble sleeping?
EM: Yes I do, though fortunately not all that often. However, the many variations of sleepless nights I’ve experienced definitely had its part in fuelling my feel for this theme and for the versatility of it.
BAPS: Out of all the places you have ever slept, which has been your favourite?
EM: First come to mind the weeks I spent residing on a hilltop overlooking the Mazunte beach by the southernmost tip of Mexico. We slept out in the open under hay roofs, listening to the waves.
Closer to home, the appended bunks my dad constructed for my sister and me at our family cabin in the Finnish Karelian countryside, in the absolute silence and bright summer nights of the primeval lakeside forest.
And lastly, a place where the soul utterly rests is in the Abruzzean country-side, where I at intervals spend time, focusing on my work or the yearly painting course I organize there.
BAPS: Can you remember what you dreamt about last?
EM: Coincidentally, last night I dreamt about resting. I was feigning sleep in an awkward position on a bench on a moving ferry, with the weight of some sleeping friends on me that I preferred to support rather than to make myself comfortable.
BAPS: In Berlin, where’s a good place to go for some peace and quiet?
EM: Taking a walk around Schlachtensee calms my inner-city nerves right down. Alternatively, finding a focused activity to reach full concentration through, like taking life model drawing classes.
BAPS: Can you tell us about the concept behind DRAW?
EM: This summer the DRAW concept merges my In Bed solo-exhibition with a life model drawing workshop. Open to participants of all skill levels, the workshop offers in-depth life drawing instruction, improving technique and developing artistic expression.
The DRAW concept folds in participatory workshops with curated solo-exhibitions. The workshops are structured in reciprocity with each exhibition, drawing visual and thematic cues from it and establishing a grounded discourse between exhibition, instructor and workshop participants. With this project my aim is to create a forum for communicating about and through art in a setting that isn’t dependent on established mechanisms and institutions, but intuitive and hands on. I want it to be similar to other activities people do when they go out to enjoy life.
- DRAW at Made My Day July 28th – August 14, 2012. To reserve a space email firstname.lastname@example.org