Antonia Marsh curates a new group show that explores the beauty of being between the sheets
The possibilities offered by a bed are endless. Often palmed off as a place for just sleeping, you’d be doing yourself a serious disservice to neglect all the fun (and not so fun) activities that can be experienced in the ultimate personal space. Girls Only NYC founder, curator and artist Antonia Marsh has realised this – and wants to help you realise it too, by celebrating the bed in all its glory through her new group show, aptly titled PILLOW TALK. Talking to us tucked up amongst her own duvet and pillows, we spoke with Marsh to find out more, ahead of its launch this Thursday 11 February.
How and why did you come up with the idea to explore the bed?
Antonia Marsh: I was in Copenhagen chatting with Matilde (Søes Rasmussen, in the show) about her photography, and she showed me some of her work, which included the pink bed photo that’s in the show, and we started excitedly chatting about how we both take photos of the different beds we sleep in and that there’s something magical about them. And then it occurred to me that the same might go for other photographers, at which point I started reaching out, plus Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and I wanted to sex it up a bit for people this year.
As a 20-something-year-old woman sharing a flat with three other poeple, I feel like my bed is the one place that really feels mine. A lot goes on in the bed, from the obvious; sleeping; sex; crying; but then also eating; working; Skype meetings; selfies; thinking; procrastinating. What does your bed mean to you?
Antonia Marsh: All the above and more. They are such personal, individualised spaces and yet they mean pretty similar things to each of us. I was talking to one of the photographers in the show, Marcel Castenmiller, about this exact subject, and he used the metaphor of the bed being like an island, a safe space. We are totally stripped down and ourselves, and when you invite another person to share this space with you it becomes even more intensely intimate.
That said, what’s your favourite thing to do in bed?
Antonia Marsh: Oddly enough, kind of like you mentioned, the range of activities that go on in bed are so broad. My favourite two are probably cuddles and work. I love waking up and making myself a coffee and getting back into bed with it to write or whatever, it’s a real luxury that I get to do that, and for some reason it’s only okay to do in the morning while I’m still in my pants.
Do you think the connection and importance of our beds evolve as we get older?
Antonia Marsh: Definitely. I used to hate going to bed when I was a child, it would be such a nightmare trying to get me to go to sleep – which probably speaks to my character now! But then again you never want to get out of bed in the dark in the winter and go to school do you? So I guess maybe the rumblings of what bed becomes are there. Unlike most people (it seems!) I lost my virginity in a bed when I was a teenager so I wonder if that has some significance for me now – the idea of having sex not in my bed is really exciting, but this might not be the case for everyone.
After viewing and curating a selection of work for the show, do you feel representations and meanings of the bed change depending whether it’s through the gaze of a male or a female?
Antonia Marsh: Looking through the photos, honestly, not massively. There are one or two more nudes photographed by male photographers, but i think this is more a testament to the female body rather than some sort of sexualising through the male gaze. While there’s sex in the show, it’s from a more tender, intimate perspective and is often suggested rather than being in-your-face, which I think speaks to the bed as a space we associate with intimacy above all else, rather than sex. Although sex is itself a signifier of intimacy as well.
Lastly, how did you choose the artists for the show? What struck you about their work?
Antonia Marsh: This is always a strange question to answer because it feels so instinctual. Through curating for a while and just going to shows I know a lot of young photographers and I approached those whose work engages with this level of intimacy I am looking to develop in the show. They all had photos of beds, or would be interested in shooting in the bedroom, basically! Honestly though, when I look at the list of artists, it just makes sense. A couple approached me when they saw the show was happening or I told them about it, which is pretty awesome and flattering.
Featuring work from Jamie Burke, Tom Beard, Lily Bertrand-Webb, Rebekah Campbell, Marcel Castenmiller, Scarlett Carlos Clarke, Laura Coulson, Rory DCS, Lida Fox, Fryd Frydendahl, Kristin Gallegos, Ada Hamza, Amelia Hazlerigg, Sam Hiscox, Jesse Jenkins, Sandy Kim, Indigo Lewin, Chad Moore, Tim Noble, Matilde Soes Rasmussen, Tafv Sampson, Joe Skilton, Jono White, Austin Williams. PILLOW TALK runs at west London’s Palm Tree Gallery from 11 – 25 February. For more information click here