Collective rest and resistance: Galerie de l’UQAM hosts the exhibition «De la vie au lit»


Curator: Sarah Heussaff
Artists: Cindy Baker, Tamyka Bullen, Liz Crow, Octavia Rose Hingle, Salima Punjani, Rea Sweets
Dates: February 23rd – April 6th, 2024
Opening: Thursday February 22nd, 2024, 5:30 p.m. (Live streaming on Galerie de l’UQAM’s website)

Cindy Baker, Crash Pad, 2016, sculpture and performance. Photo: Stephanie Patsula
Octavia Rose Hingle, Bodyfabric (video still), 2020, video art, 7 min 24 s

February 13, 2024 — Galerie de l’UQAM is off to a strong start of the year with the group exhibition De la vie au lit. In this project, the bed and its bedside become spaces of transmission, the ultimate sharing of intergenerational trauma, and romantic or amicable moments of care. Going through the experience induces new relationships to the body and to choreographed gestures. The assemblage of different art mediums also responds to the capitalist injunction of hyper-productivity, which stigmatizes bodies that are lying down and/or chronically incapacitated.

The exhibition
The time spent in bed, whether temporary, occasional, or permanent, offers rest and alleviates the pain or weariness caused by sickness, disability, or depression. In the collective unconscious, and due to its frequent occurrence in private or domestic space, bed rest tends to be an intimate activity. Indeed, Western philosophy, art history and terminology have long associated bed rest and the physiological act of lying down with lasciviousness, laziness, or idleness. They have also persistently relegated private spaces to the realms of apolitical individuality. Following ableist and capitalist expectations, which favour mind and body entities that are not disabled or sick, and workers, the bed should strictly –for those who are entitled to it– be a place to recover for the sake of greater productivity and reproductivity. They want our bodies and minds to be fertile, steady, on their feet, and at work.

Liz Crow, Bedding Out, 2012-2013, performance. Photo: Matthew Fessey/Roaring Girl Productions.

However, considering experiences in bed solely from a performative point of view ignores the realities of disability and sickness, for which the bed is not only a tool for (re)productivity but also a place of the everyday–where one eats, sleeps, enjoys leisure time, or even works. The bed is also a space for encounters, both online and offline, in which we communicate outward and inside, bringing together a community with whom we celebrate our strengths and vulnerabilities.

Rea Sweets, installation view of Love My Dysfunctions, 2020. Photo : Rea Sweets
Salima Punjani, The Cost of Entry is a Heartbeat (video still), 2020, video, performance. Photo: Salima Punjani

Life in bed enables to circumvent inaccessibility with gentleness and resistance. Lying-down lives, then, don’t exist outside the world simply because they are lived in bed. On the contrary, they are ways of inhabiting it. The artists invited to the exhibition De la vie au lit embody diverse and intersectional realities and identities. Their practices address, in a cross-disciplinary and creative manner, themes related to the experience of life in bed, encompassing rest and/or resistance to norms. Life in bed is simultaneously an object, a bedside, a room of one’s own, a pretext or a material and a symbolic space to collectively experience testimony, contemplation, rest, and resistance. The artworks featured in the exhibition exist both physically in the gallery space and online. To tackle the issue of inaccessibility, a challenge not immune to the art world, several sensory approaches have been designed to offer one or more ways of experiencing the works in alignment with our individualities.

De la vie au lit is intended as an archive of our disabled, Deaf and sick presents, in which cultures and futures are not denied.

About the artists
Cindy Baker is a contemporary artist based in Western Canada whose work engages with queer, gender, race, disability, fat, and art discourses. Committed to ethical community engagement and critical social enquiry, Baker’s interdisciplinary research-based practice draws upon 25 years working, volunteering, and organizing in the communities of which she is part. She moves fluidly between the arts, humanities, and social sciences, emphasizing the theoretical and conceptual over material concerns. Baker holds an MFA from the University of Lethbridge where she received a SSHRC grant for her research in performance in the absence of the artist’s body; she has exhibited and performed across Canada and internationally. Helping found important community and advocacy organizations over the course of her career, Baker continues to maintain volunteer leadership roles across her communities.

Tamyka Bullen is a Deaf artist and performer. As a social justice advocate, she has volunteered and worked with youth, Deaf women, immigrant and LGBTQ communities. In 2015, she performed in RARE Theatre’s latest production After the Blackout Created by Judith Thompson. Among her other achievements, Tamyka Bullen took part in the 2020 exhibition Hidden at Toronto’s Tangled Arts + Disability Gallery. This same year, she performed Spiral Life as part of the Rhubarb Festival and at SOUND OFF festival, in 2022. At the end of 2023, she performed in Montreal alongside members of the black Deaf women’s collective Survivance as part of the performance evenings Dis/ability diversity sets culture in motion! produced by the Canada Research Chair on Cultural Citizenship of Deaf People and Cultural Equity Practices.

Liz Crow is a disabled person and artist-activist working in performance, film, audio and text, drawn to the power of creative work as a tool for change. A former NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) fellow and founder of Roaring Girl Productions, she has completed a practice-led PhD in extending activist reach and influence. Liz’s work has shown at Tate Modern, British Film Institute, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center and on the Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth. Works include the touring film installation Resistance: which way the future? which explored the Nazi programme of mass-murder that targeted disabled people, reflecting on what this history means for us now, and Figures, a mass-sculptural durational performance that made visible the human cost of the UK government’s austerity programme and urged action against it. Liz is currently working on a creative response to climate and disability with the University of Exeter’s Sensing Climate project.

Octavia Rose Hingle (he/she/they)is a Bay Area born & raised choreographer and installation artist with a physical impairment. Their performance work centers access as an aesthetic portal to visions of past and future ancestors that travel through the present moment. Most recently, their project Crip Ecstasy brought together a disabled and non-disabled cast of performance artists, visual designers, DJs and access providers to conjure new blueprints for what a nightlife space can be. Octavia holds a BA in dance from Middlebury College, and has studied with ODC/Dance, the UCLA Dancing Disability Lab, AXIS Dance Company’s Choreo-Lab Fellowship, and the Headlong Performance Institute. They have presented work with Counterpulse, Roots Division, 2727 California Street, Queering Dance Festival, LEVYdance and SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts.

Salima Punjani is a multi-sensory artist whose work is rooted in relational aesthetics. Central to her creations is the aspiration to craft environments that foster receptivity and connection. Her recent projects explore themes such as the dynamics of isolation and resocialization associated with the COVID-19 pandemic; the act of resting as a form of resistance against systemic injustices; and the potential of hijacking medical data to uncover human connections rather than highlighting anomalies that divide us.

Rea Sweets is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist. Through tangible, performance, and interactive mediums, Sweets explores the cosmic enchantments and hindrances of digitality, circling between intimacy, identity, and the imagination. She has worked with Margin of Eras Gallery, Akin Collective and exhibited works at Charles Street Video, Trinity Square Video, Dames Making Games, Myseum of Toronto and Gladstone House. She is a co-founder of PRUDEmag, a zine for spinsters, rule-makers, asexuals, relationship anarchists, and all others refusing a sex necessary culture. The zine reclaims “prude” as a celebration of autonomy and boundary setting, and a liberation in which “no” is sacred.

About the curator
Sarah Heussaff holds a Master’s degree in curating from Université Rennes 2, France. From 2014 to 2019, she began research in the field of critical disability studies via online chronicles. Her research is then presented in France and abroad through conferences, workshops and an exhibition (Autonomous Spaces, Ateliers du Vent-Rennes, 2017) that introduces, alongside Zig Blanquer, practices of Disability/crip arts in the field of visual arts in France. At the end of 2019, she begins PhD research in the communications program at UQAM. In 2024, her research, funded by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Société et culture (FRQSC), focused on the emergence of disability arts in relation to disability activist movements and accessible curating. In her research method and in her curatorial practice, she places great importance on those who have expertise through experience.

Public activities
Performance by Tamyka Bullen
Saturday, February 24, 2024, 12:30 – 1:15 pm
Galerie de l’UQAM
ASL, translation read in French by Sendy-Loo Emmanuel
Free Admission

In the performance, the bed and its bedside table symbolize a final recollection, a last testimony from a daughter to her ailing mother. Jimena, the character in the story, is a 40-year-old Deaf woman who angrily shares her frustrations about her distant relationship with her mother. She tells us the divide between two worlds: that of the hearing and that of the Deaf.

Performance by Cindy Baker
Saturday, February 24, 2024, 2 – 5 pm
Galerie de l’UQAM
French Audio description, 2 – 3 pm by Letizia Binda-Partensky
Free Admission

Artist Cindy Baker will conduct a 3-hour performance, interacting with the CRASH PAD installation displayed in the exhibition. The artist’s work resides at the intersection of Queer, Gender, Race, Disability and Fat Studies, exploring body-mind resources, fatigability, and stamina in performance. The first hour of the performance will be audio described in French.

Pillow talk with Salima Punjani
Saturday, March 2, 2024, 2 – 3:30 pm
Galerie de l’UQAM
French, LSQ
Free admission

Salima Punjani will host a public gathering to present her artistic approach and activate the installation exhibited in the Galerie. Participants are invited to a collective listening and resting session, followed by an informal discussion with the artist.

Guided tour with the curator
Friday, March 8, 2024, 12:30 – 1:30 pm
Galerie de l’UQAM

Free admission

An informal visit of the exhibition De la vie au lit is organized with the curator Sarah Heussaff. This activity will be an opportunity to interact with the public around the themes of the exhibition.

Bed dance workshop
In partnership with Studio 303
Saturday, March 16, 2024, 2 – 3:30 pm
English, ASL, LSQ
Admission limited; registration required (priority seating reserved for Deaf people)

In this workshop, Octavia Rose Hingle draws on their technique of dancing in bed to offer strategies for exploring the pleasure and possibilities presented by the soft surfaces of our domestic spaces. Disabled and non-disabled dancers from all backgrounds are invited to interpret contemporary dance fundamentals from their bed, sofa, or floor.

Bedside reading
Tuesday, April 2, 2024, 10:30 – 11:30 am
Online via Zoom
French; written material available in French and English on Framapad
Free admission

Exhibition curator Sarah Heussaff invites the public to a reading in bed within the Bedding Out installation, which will be broadcast online. She will read the script from the video featured in the exhibition and the text “Lying Down Anyhow, an auto-ethnography” by Liz Crow. Embracing disabled and sick mobilities, the author describes the discomfort and judgements that arise when the act of lying down is performed in public spaces.

Educational Program
The cultural mediators of Galerie de l’UQAM will be offering guided tours of the exhibition De la vie au lit to groups and faculty members. Flexible and open to all school and community groups, the tours can be adapted to meet particular needs and to complement material covered in the classroom, if needed. These activities are offered free of charge, in French or English. An interpreter in Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) or American Sign Language (ASL) can be made available to groups wishing to visit our exhibitions with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Please contact our staff as soon as possible, given the time required to book interpreters.

+ More information:

Reservation required:
Léa Lanthier-Lapierre
Cultural Mediation and Communications Coordinator, Galerie de l’UQAM
514 987-3000 ext. 20595


Address and Opening Hours
Galerie de l’UQAM
Judith-Jasmin Pavilion, Room J-R120
1400 Berri, corner of Sainte-Catherine East, Montréal
Berri-UQAM Metro

Tuesday ­– Saturday, noon – 6 p.m.

Free admission


Tel.: 514-987-6150 / Facebook / Instagram

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Julie Meunier, Press Relations Officer
Press Relations and Special Events Division
UQAM Communications Service
Cell.: 514 895-0134