Disability Arts Online

Reflecting from the Bed / 8 March 2013

Roaring Girl Productions/Trish Wheatley

Bedding In at SPILL Festival of Performance

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My latest project is barrelling its way towards the start line. This week, the brilliant CoQuo, my production team have been at Salisbury Arts Centre putting the finishing touches to my Bedding Out installation that forms part of the People Like You exhibition showing work by Gini, Sue Austion and me, and which  launches tonight (8 March). At the beginning of April, I will be moving body and soul into the exhibition space for 48 hours, but more on that soon…

Bedding Out comes out of my performance at last autumn’s SPILL Festival of Performance in which I took to my bed in a gallery for three consecutive days in response to the current welfare benefits overhaul. It was one of eight DAO Diverse Perspectives commissions (thank you DAO!).

The work looks at the way I live a life in two very separate parts. There’s a public self that tries to be outgoing and happening and changing the world, and most people assume because that’s what they see of me, that’s how I am in the rest of my life. But then there’s the private self, which wins no friends or accolades, in which I spend most of my time at home, a lot of time lying down and quite a lot in bed.

This is the self that I have become very expert in concealing. And whilst that has kind of worked for the past 30 years, in the face of benefits changes, it no longer does. Instead, this new system demands that I reverse myself, parading the private me to justify support.

In the performance I take this private self and make it public, performing my bed-life. Since the public me is so carefully constructed, this is a kind of un-performing of my self. I want to make visible a twilight existence shared by thousands of us. But even more, I want to show that what so many people see as contradiction - what they call fraud - is just the complexity of real life.

As part of last autumn’s performance, members of the public gathered around my bed for Bedside Conversations, talking about the work, its backdrop, its politics. Reflections from the Bed is short audio-visual slideshow (with captions) that tells more about the work and why it feels so necessary.

Keywords: access issues,disability art,live art

Comments

Liz

/
2 April 2013

Thanks, Gini, Rich and Winnie, for your comments. Would love to have been at the wine and nibbles, but perhaps there was something significant about the empty bed! My installation bed changes for each performance, sourced locally to the venue. I love my bed at home (except for the times I loathe it) and think it is probably my favourite bed, set in a room designed for calm and peace. At its best, my bed is my retreat, the place where I am restored, though the complete invisibility of that part of my life allows the biased idea that so many people have of what it means to be 'us'. So hope you'll all join in the livestream and twitter (@RGPLizCrow #beddingout) or text *(07784 899514) feed; would be great to have you in the thick of the conversation!

winnie

/
12 March 2013

Having spent the last 10 days in bed following a relapse, I understand you completely. I get the impression that if you do not have a disability which is 'visible', people think you are just lazy, a benefit scrounger or simply making it up. Being in constant pain is exhausting, certain medications can make you tired, so it's just a never ending cycle of fatigue. My bed and I thank you for bringing this to peoples attention.

richard downes

/
10 March 2013

how many beds do you have?

is your installed bed the same as the one you sleep in at home?

if you have more than one bed which one do you prefer?

I like beds. The best bed I slept I was at a premier inn in south mimms. the worst.... either one in Sheffield or another one outside Milan when I slept in a field and woke up covered in insect bites, necessitating a stay in a hospital in Aosta. Do you have a best and worst bed story?

Gini

/
9 March 2013

We had the wine and nibbles Liz ('People Like You' Private View), and it was rather poignant seeing people with headphones clustered around your empty bed - they were immersed in the installation which looks good, and works well.

I'm looking forward to having my own Con.Text conversations and of course to your live performance in April.

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