The Art Museum Presents 'Figures Of Sleep' Exhibition

Is sleep in crisis? Figures of Sleep, a major international exhibition, presented by the Art Museum from January 17 - March 3, 2018, considers the cultural anxieties around the collapsing biological function of sleep under economic, social and technological transformation.

Figures of Sleep will include visual art works such as: a large-scale, slide-dissolve installation by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss, that immerses the viewer in a barrage of mind-wandering questions from a stress-induced sleeplessness; a series of portraits from Les Dormeurs by French artist Sophie Calle, who asked people to give her a glimpse of their sleep by sleeping in her bed for eight hours while being photographed; a haunting, miniaturized sculpture of an old woman curled up in her bed by Australian artist Ron Mueck; documentation from American artist Chris Burden's 22-day long stay in bed, performed for the duration of his exhibition at the Market Street program in San Francisco in 1972; and Burrow by Canadian artist Liz Magor, a series of cast tree trunks that house sleeping bags, unsettling the association of urban homelessness and outdoor refuge.

"Exceedingly, artists have adopted the motif of sleep as a cipher for material, aesthetic, existential and political considerations of these urgent cultural concerns," said Sarah Robayo Sheridan, the curator of Figures of Sleep. "If night is the space of mystic quandary, creative catalyst and spiritual and cultural resources, then today's globalized capitalism, market and military demands for service 24/7 are stretching the human body and mind in unprecedented ways."

Figures of Sleep will also include Toronto artist Jon Sasaki's remarkable endurance dance work A Rest. Performed by James Phillips, A Rest takes its cue from depression-era dance marathons in which two people sustained a pose by leaning on each other for physical support. When these poses are performed solo, the viewer sees the dancer strain in an unsustainable position without relief, ultimately causing collapse.

In conjunction with Figures of Sleep, and in partnership with the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Canada, the Art Museum will host the Night of Ideas on Thursday, January 25, from 7 pm to 7 am, an all-night event taking place simultaneously in more than 50 countries. The Art Museum at the University of Toronto is the first ever Canadian institution to take part in this French born global event, which will bring together in Toronto artists, philosophers, scientists, and composers to tackle such wide-ranging subjects as the neuroscience of sleep, the meaning of downtime, the health impact of sleeplessness, the cultural importance of dreaming, and the architecture and politics of sleep. The complete program is to be announced in early January.

Figures of Sleep
January 17 - March 3, 2018
Opening: Wednesday, January 17, 6 - 8 pm
Art Museum at the University of Toronto
University of Toronto Art Centre
15 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario

Special Events: Night of Ideas, January 25, 2018, 7pm - 7am
Partners: Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Canada;
The Institut Français; Hart House

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