The Strength of Sleep
The Cohabitations of All the Living
The Quebec City Biennial will draw its inspiration from the Canadian winter and the sleeping earth to focus on human sleep and the multiple nuances of the process of waking. Both sleep and the cold season are times of latency, transition, and pause, of suspended productivity, and of resistance against the exploitation of bodies and resources. These daily or seasonal alterations, where different species and their environments interconnect, provide the living with the opportunity for regeneration, as well as for listening, attention to self-knowledge, and interaction with other life forms. By liberating inner, uncontrolled, and sometimes crucial strengths, and by altering our reflexes and shifting our perceptions, sleep can change how we perceive the world.
Biological rhythms of activity and rest have a social and political history. Indeed, both the duration and structure of sleep have been governed by a succession of norms. In the industrial era, sleep, which imposes idleness, has been a hot political issue, as evidenced by capitalism’s efforts to enforce the reign of profit over “24/7”. Modernity wants the body to be “recycled” overnight. The contemporary world cultivates and exploits the ideology of sleep disorders. Meanwhile, the most dispossessed among us, in metropolises the world over, sleep outside.
The Biennial is organized into different exhibitions—moments of awakening meant to engage multiple levels of attention. The artistic processes involved can provoke astonishment, unforeseen experiences that trigger a rearrangement of our perceptions, our certainties, and the hierarchies that govern us. As visitors move through the exhibitions, they will encounter spaces of fertile retreat: projection rooms, bedrooms and beds where we abandon and find ourselves, houses and burrows where we take shelter and unite with others, hideaways and refuges where resistance and observations are born. Other matters for consideration include navigating the deep cold and the plant world’s extraordinary survival strategies.
Vigils, meditations, daydreams—these are forms of half-slumber that nourish our days and give us time to experience out-of-sync perceptions, discordant thoughts, and suspended judgments. The artists remind us that these moments are made of forces that allow us to grow into our ways of living and cohabiting on a planet of which we are not the owners and where we are not the only subjects.