Liz Magor, talking about the Sleepers
Silicone rubber, doll head
12.5 × 76 × 17.5 cm
Collection of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina
Purchased with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Program
On the shelving unit in the second room there are about six sort of figurative things that look like giant grubs or sausages or something with hair in one end. They are called the Sleepers. There are small ones and big ones. They are a version of the container and the contained relationship that many of the works are interested in. So in all the works that have a container and a contained, I first identify the container… I first identify the container as a form that’s familiar. It might be a box. In this case the container is a swaddling blanket. And so you assume that inside is some special, contained thing which is probably a baby. So I thought, what if there was no baby there and the container was solid all the way through. So in fact they’re solid rubber. There is no figure inside, either imagined or real. There is just a head that’s been trapped by the rubber. So to make these I took a doll, I wrapped it with blankets. I made a mould of the head and the blanket, that sausage shape. Then, into the empty mould, I put the head in the depression that was for the head, then I just poured rubber, solid, solid rubber. And the rubber flowed up and grabbed the head. So in a way the container is very aggressive. Instead of being a protective device, it has usurped the content. It’s protecting itself, and the head is just an artifact. The hair is almost like a signal saying “help, I’m drowning in this rubber” sort of thing.
In that sense, I think some of the works, you might say that the figures maybe look like in the posture of being dead or comatose or inert somehow. The figures are lying down. There’s the big one called Tube that looks like somebody’s inside a rolled carpet. But I prefer to think of them as deep, deep sleep, which would be a sort of a retreat, a psychological retreat that is available to anybody without a form. And it’s a psychological state that’s available to remove yourself from a stressful situation.