Jonathan Baldock’s commission for SPACE, My biggest fear is that someone will crawl into it, transforms the building’s façade into a grotesque face with ceramic eyes, a protruding tongue, and teeth fringing the doorway. Visitors to the exhibition can enter the gallery through the gaping mouth to find a king sized four-poster bed with hand-sewn hangings comprising another face with an accompanying whispering voice audible from within. The work reveals the subjective boundaries between external and internal, public and private, gallery formality and bedroom intimacy.
My biggest fear is that someone will crawl into it is a paraphrased quote from Robert Rauschenberg speaking about his 1955 combine work, Bed. There is a long history of beds being depicted in art for the significant role they play in our lives – from Vincent Van Gogh to Tracey Emin. Beds are the sites of birth, death, sex, sleep, dreams and, increasingly, meals, entertainment, business and study. Conspicuously lacking from the lives of many people who are rendered homeless, the symbol of the bed shifts between a complex metaphor and a basic necessity. This project is Baldock’s first overtly autobiographical work, evoking his own living situation and also his relationship to his mother. Her voice is heard within the exhibition, recorded reading from her diaries in a hushed and hurried tone. This aspect of the work reflects how his mother’s narrative has informed his own. My biggest fear is that someone will crawl into it is a self-conscious statement that reflects the discomfort of opening up one’s private space while also recognising the unexceptional yet universal nature of personal experience. Baldock’s invitation for visitors to crawl into his work and participate in its narrative is knowingly both narcissistic and generous.
A commissioned essay on My biggest fear is that someone will crawl into it written by Martin Hargreaves is available online and at SPACE.
Jonathan Baldock (b. Pembury, UK) is a London-based artist with a multidisciplinary practice incorporating sculpture, painting, textiles and performance. He uses traditional handicraft techniques to create colourful and theatrical works that refer to the human form. He is interested in creating fictions in which his works are cast as characters in an alternate reality that the visitor is invited to enter.
His work has been shown internationally with recent solo shows including: Jonathan Baldock, OneWork Gallery, Vienna (2017); Love Life: Act 1 (touring exhibition with Emma Hart), PEER, London (2016-17); The Skin I Live in, Nicelle Beauchene, New York (2016). Group exhibitions include: Conversation Piece – Part 3, Fondazione Memmo, Rome; Baldock Pope Zahle, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland; Seepferdchen und Flugfische (touring), Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen (Germany) (2016). He also has several forthcoming shows in the UK: Offshore: artists explore the sea, Hull Maritime Museum, Hull; Love Life: Act 2, The Grundy, Blackpool; a solo exhibition at CGP, London; Love Life: Act 3, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill (2017).