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I do not often experience contemporary artwork curled up in my pajamas, nightly scrolls through Instagram notwithstanding. But as I lay across a double mattress outfitted in white bedding, Jacqueline Falcone, co-owner along with Daniel Arismendys Taveras-Hernandez, of the Los Angeles art space Bed and Breakfast, reads aloud to me from a chair placed neatly in the corner, her voice dancing across the sculptures of Come Undone, a solo exhibition by artist Ali Prosch.
Bed and Breakfast is a name to be taken literally. Falcone and Taveras-Hernandez go to hospitable extremes: hosting visitors overnight in their bedroom, the gallery’s exhibition space, reading them bedtime stories of exhibition-related readings, and preparing a communal breakfast in the morning before departure. Falcone and Taveras-Hernandez sleep on a pull-out bed in the living room on nights when a reservation has been made. As Falcone speaks, my eyes dart around the bedroom-cum-gallery, and I try to focus more on the artworks, for a moment, than the reading taking place.
Each of Prosch’s pieces serve as a kind of surrogate, in some cases for a practical item that might naturally be found in a bedroom, as in Untitled (curtains) (2018), sheets that dangle from a wooden dowel. In other instances the sculptures are more self-referential, serving as stand-ins for artworks or decorative items themselves, as is the case with Untitled (wall piece) (2018) and Untitled (mobile) (2017–2018), a rectangular swath of coral latex dotted with tufts of rabbit fur and hung from another, smaller, wooden dowel. All the pieces perform a kind of imitation, embodying the skin rather than the substance of the items they purport to depict. This flesh-like association is only further emphasized by the pervasive look and smell of latex, a material used in all the exhibition’s works.
The press release states that Come Undone “explores the nuanced processes of aging and loss” and is “set against cultural constructions of beauty ideals that pedestal the flawless.” While pieces such as Untitled (grey braid) (2017)—in which the titular braid is trapped within a cylinder of latex bound like a sconce against the wall—do suggest a bodily maturation, Prosch’s peachy color scheme and elegant use of materials more immediately culls up images of a rosy-cheeked debutante than an aged woman bound within the looming reality of death.
However, there are moments when the exhibition’s pleasant facade cracks, such as in Untitled (towel) (2018), a sculpture which hangs casually atop a bronze hook affixed to the bedroom’s closet door. A line of oversized wart-like nodules dripping with a brown viscous liquid run along the artwork’s surface, a vague but impactful allusion to the human body’s grotesque realities.
I wake up in the morning able to consider aesthetic details I didn’t notice as Falcone read to me or as I lay in bed afterwards, my mind too consumed by the inherent self-consciousness of sleeping in an unfamiliar bedroom. The morning light of Los Angeles exposes another strange and subtle flaw in Untitled (curtains). The latex “curtain” does not sit against the wooden dowel “rod” quite like fabric would; it clings a little too tightly, curling at its edges, as though the dowel were an arm attempting to pull through an undersized latex sleeve.
This understated difference, once so easily overlooked, is now impossible to ignore, mirroring the way life’s imperfections accumulate and surface over time—that ring around the collar, the dust upon the bookshelf, those smile lines that become permanent rather than temporary fixtures upon the face.
I suddenly realize that I have become exactly one day older in this exhibition. Yet, rather than brood on thoughts of my eventual mortality, I head for the kitchen, where Falcone and Taveras-Hernandez expect me for coffee and blueberry pancakes.