An adventuresome engagement of the threshold of discomfort is a crucial element in bringing work into the world. The hallmark trait of the poet, for John Keats is the capacity for “being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” The uncertainty Keats speaks of is not a blandly passive “what.ev.er” but rather an actively curious posture of being, an empathic flexibility, opening up space for receptivity, discovery, and imagination.
We often think of uncertainty as a problematic state, something we have to endure on our way to the preferred state of certainty. But what if we reconsider uncertainty as a rich ground of possibility and generativity? What is the role of accident and chance? How do we tolerate uncertainty, stay with the discomfort of not nailing something down, attending to it openly enough to allow to experience its particular aliveness. And what creates the confidence to launch into unknowing, but the strange embrace and pushback of the process itself? These interviews will address such discomforts as doubt, fear, boredom, mortality, transience, repetition, material constraints, and perhaps the most terrifying thing of all: actual possibility.
Why talk about these things on a mattress? Talking on a mattress can be like taking a long car ride with someone, or gardening with a friend, looking off in the same direction, creating in some strange way, a shared reverie, a third space between the two speakers, where ideas can be spun out and entertained.
These interviews address matters of process that speak to issues present for artists in any medium. They’re founded – perhaps prematurely – on a nostalgia for face-to-face conversation, for being in the same room with the person to whom I’m speaking.
Here are some photos from McRoskey Mattress Company on Market St. in San Francisco, where these interviews will take place. I extend much gratitude to Robin Azevedo for her generosity in allowing me to conduct these interviews on “the most comfortable mattresses in the world.”
The interviews are audiotaped and the transcript and audio will be available on the Mattress Talks website [in process], and eventually these interviews will be collected in a book.
Participants so far include:
Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs
This project is supported by an Alternative Exposure grant from Southern Exposure Gallery.