Technique and condition

The following entry is based on examination of the work and an interview with the artist, Guillermo Kuitca, held on 24 March, 2005, as well as documentation in the conservation record held in Sculpture Conservation.

Twenty infant-sized beds each consisting of a printed cotton and foam mattress on a wood frame secured with steel screws, iron alloy brackets and waxed string. All elements were designed and hand made by the artist following traditional upholstery techniques. Kuitca used found materials including patterned material sourced from local markets. Maps of Europe were then projected and copied onto the surface of the mattresses with major cities labelled using marker pens. The mattresses were immersed into large containers of dilute black acrylic paint so as to give them a used appearance, ‘The intention was not for them to look old, but to achieve an even finish’ (Tate interview with Kuitca, 24/03/05).

The installation is variable, ‘The layout is flexible but the number of units (twenty) is not...they are a specific group with specific geography’ (Tate interview with Kuitca, 24/03/05). Installed sympathetically in the gallery display space, the visitor is meant to walk between the rows of beds. Therefore, the location of each mapped bed does not have to be geographically correct so long as all the labels can be read from the same viewpoint.

The condition of the artwork is good with minor signs of wear and tear. Kuitca commented that the beds look older than he remembered but acknowledged that he likes the condition they are in now, ‘used not old’ (Tate interview with Kuitca, 24/03/05). One bed is missing a metal foot and a replacement has been requested from the artist. If this proves unsuccessful, Kuitca would prefer that the base of the leg be painted with metallic paint to match the others.

Jodie Glen-Martin and Bryony Bery
August 2005