I've sat and lain in bed for months
This is a life-size antique tuberculosis cure bed - rescued from the town dump in Saranac Lake. It has sewn into it the stories of girls and women who spent their days “curing” in tuberculosis sanatoriums across America, including Alice James in the late 1880’s to Isabel Smith in the mid 1940’s.
The stories of 16 year old Evelyn Bellak are told through her diary, whose entries are embroidered throughout the bed coverings as well as images of her diary pages that are printed on the mattress and pillow. Evelyn was at the Ray Brook Sanitarium in Ray Brook, NY (in the Adirondacks).
This piece also includes text from an Adirondack Porch Reclining Chair advertisement, as well as using vintage Burnitol sputum cups and a Bullseye Brand shot bag.
The Bed Project:
Because women have always been associated with the home, hearth and all the domestic duties that belong to them, this project is about memories and moments that are attached to specific objects within our homes − specifically beds. Historically our life cycle begins and ends in the bed. It used to be that all of our life cycles (birth, sickness, death) occurred in our beds, in the family home. In the second half of the 20th century so much of our lives have been taken out of the home and moved to places where we become handled by specialists i.e. the hospital bed or any other specialized institution.
It is because of these domestic associations, that in order to read these intimate stories the reader must unmake each bed, pulling back the covers to “turn the pages.” In order to close the book, one must re-make the bed, mimicking the actions of women’s housework that have been done for centuries.
More about this ongoing bed project - and all the text and specs for this bed can be found on my web page.
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