Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa

Print of Sleep

2016

Not on display

Artist
Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa born 1978
Medium
Video, high definition, colour and sound (stereo)
Dimensions
Duration: 17min, 44sec
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the artist 2020
Reference
T15766

Summary

Print of Sleep 2016 is a is a single-channel video with sound of a durational performance by Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa. Edited down to a little under eighteen minutes for the video, the performance was originally presented at the sixth edition of the biennial event If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part of Your Revolution, Amsterdam in 2016 and again at KunstWerke in Berlin, where this video was filmed. It depicts a predominantly empty white room with a number of bare metal-framed beds with wire-mesh supports, some double-tiered, and lit underneath by fluorescent tubes that are placed across the space. The scenario recalls a temporary shelter or makeshift hospital. Standing and sitting by each bedframe are figures wearing predominantly white clothing consisting of simple t-shirts, leggings and trousers. The artist is dressed in white and moves through the space, accompanied by another figure dressed in dark nondescript clothing holding a paint palette with roller and with a tote-bag hanging from his shoulder. Throughout the performance, Ramírez-Figueroa uses the roller to cover the wire-mesh support of the beds with black paint. He then places different parts of each participant’s body on the frame to create an imprint on either their clothing or a body-part. Once the print has been achieved, he sometimes places rolled up white towels under their head or feet as a form of support. The proceedings are conducted in silence with the only sound coming from the actions taking place. Close-ups of the participant’s body are at times shown in between the main moments of action. Toward the end of the video, Ramírez-Figueroa applies paint using a spatula-like object onto a different wire bed frame that he covers with a bed sheet, which is then draped over the body of a standing woman. Print of Sleep finishes with Ramírez-Figueroa taking his t-shirt off and printing his own body with the paint before standing, while all other figures appear in various states of rest.

The title Print of Sleep alludes to the presence of beds in the performance and the main gesture that takes place. Critic Matthew McLean has compared the work to Gina Pane’s (1939–1990) The Conditioning 1973 where the artist lay over a metal frame with burning candles underneath (McLean 2016, accessed 2 July 2020). However, Ramírez-Figueroa appears to be less concerned with the extremes associated with the history of performance art that tested the limits of the body and is instead exploring the space between absence and presence, activity and stasis.

Like the earlier Blue Abstraction 2012, also in Tate’s collection (Tate L04369), Life in His Mouth, Death Cradles Her Arm exemplifies Ramírez-Figueroa’s use of performance in scenarios that create a contemplative space to reflect upon issues around vulnerability, history, memory and loss. The video can be shown as a projection or on a monitor, played on a loop. It exists in an edition of five plus one artist’s proof, with Tate’s copy being number two in the edition. The first edition is in a private collection in Guatemala.

Further reading
Matthew McLean, ‘Don’t Go Seeking Answers in the Earth’, Frieze, 14 October 2016, https://frieze.com/article/dont-go-seeking-answers-earth, accessed 2 July 2020.
Betty Martin, ‘Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa’s Color and Tone Metaphors’, online article for Artist Residency programme, 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica, California, 2017–18, https://18thstreet.org/naufus-ramirez-figueroas-color-and-tone-metaphors/, accessed 29 June 2020.
Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa: The House at Kawinal, exhibition catalogue, New Museum, New York 2018.

Fiontán Moran and Michael Wellen
July 2020

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