Staying up late with someone out of curiosity or infatuation brings out conversations we seldom encounter. Maybe it is the dark, the anonymity; maybe in that space we no longer have just our bodies, but our histories and thoughts that now have the room to be shared.
Sleepovers are popular, unmonitored platforms that encourage conversations that might otherwise never happen. You’re Invited is an exhibition that makes public the private space of a sleepover. Focusing on the construct of the gendered sleepover in America—the slumber party—the participating artists start conversations about girlhood, sexuality, and identity. Here, they explore ideas of “girl” and femininity. From childhood through adolescence, the slumber party is often a person’s first encounter with a home that is not their own—the home of a peer. Walking into another’s home is revelational. By way of new mannerisms, tastes, and scents, the wave of unfamiliarity reminds us of our individuality while illuminating differences in race, class, and culture. Without parents, individuals can also explore their sexual and queer identities with each other to a greater capacity. You’re Invited is a conversation to be had between individuals to expand their understanding of their own identities and realities, like what it means to be a “tomboy” or to be a “victim.”
Through performance and installation, the gallery setting has been collaboratively transformed into an unusually intimate space. Whether it is a slumber party or hook-up, the overnight experience of “sleeping over” encourages a reevaluation of identities and bonds. The artworks sleeping over in the Gelman Gallery manifest real experiences of girlhood and track the adventures that deviate from or move toward the femme. In You’re Invited, the sleepover is not just a topic; it is the format of the show itself. In this space we can celebrate and redefine what sleepovers are and what girlhood can be.
Curated by Mary Kuan (BFA Painting 2019), Maddie Billings (BFA Painting 2020),
and Ma’Dee (BFA Painting 2019)
Photos by AJ Hansen