2017-2018 COOP study group: Sleeping with a Vengeance, Dreaming of a Life ~ María Berríos, Tina Gverović, Ruth Noack ~
Students: Clara Amaral, Alaa Abu Asad, Livio Casanova, Ulufer Çelik, Agata Cieślak, Teresa Distelberger, Sanne Kabalt, Leeron Tur-Kaspa, Baha Görkem Yalım.
Sleeping with a Vengeance, Dreaming of a Life
"Some time in the first decade of this century, I happened across an article in a newspaper about the losses US companies are incurring through workers who were sneaking away during working hours in order to take a nap. Around the same time, an artist friend told me that she was reading a book about the Nazi time which focussed on a maid who had lost the ability to dream.
The art system itself is based on the willingness of mostly badly paid players to act out the phantasmagoria of constant availability and perpetual rejuvenation. Yet more and more of those of us who have over the past years churned out a steady flow of interesting ideas and innovative exhibitions suffer from exhaustion and tiredness. And thus I decided about 15 years ago to make an exhibition about this topic, an exhibition with the title: "Sleeping with a Vengeance, Dreaming of a Life" The basic claim of this exhibition was to be that sleep is not only a necessity and human right, but a radical and at times subversive activity. And I conceived of dreaming, sleep's correlate, as a biopolitical tool.
The exhibition never materialised and since then, sleeps and dreams have been slightly re-configured. In 2013, Johnathan Crary publishes "24/7 - Late Capitalism and the ends of sleep", analysing contemporary consumerism, which pushes people into constant activity and emerging strategies of surveillance and controll, which erode forms of community and political expression. "Sleep", he declares, "will always collide with the demands of a 24/7 universe." (p.10) Nevertheless, those US companies, and not only they, have discovered the economic value of sleep. Apparently, sleep deprivation costs the US economy over 400 billion a year, so now the National Sleep Foundation gives tips on better sleeping habits. This is a global trend: Chinese companies have just started a nation-wide campaign for napping on the job. And yet, people are still fired for doing just that. Clearly, contemporary capitalism places divergent and even conflicting demands on their workers-consumers.
My exhibition is more concerned with examples of sleep as an actual subversive practice, a refusal to function as one is supposed to and the pleasures that come with it." Ruth Noack
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