Sleeper (2012) – Yemeni Artist SALWA ALERYANISeeking to find comfort in the public space, Salwa Aleryani tackles the existence of concrete blocks in the street of Sana’a as the main theme for such exploration. In this installation the artist deconstructs the expected intention behind roadblocks into the observed results which rendered them as spots for people to hang out, gather, and socialize rather than become dispersed and controlled by their existence. Choosing a mattress that clearly exhibits signs of comfort (e.g the roses) to represent these roadblocks leads the viewer to think of the soft versus harsh nature between these two unrelated and random objects. Even though I believe that roses don’t necessarily emit a soft or comfortable perception all the time; flowers can be strong, courageous, rough, tender, dismissive, beautifying .. etc.
The work Sleeper references the recent increase in the number of roadblocks in Sana’a. Deployed with the intention of obstructing travel, in many cases the outcome is otherwise; people lounge, sit or lean against them completely at ease, sipping tea and going about their daily activities. Undeterred by their authority, and in the absence of public rest areas, not only are people still gathering where their presence is unwelcome but they are also transforming the antagonistic function of these barriers to a more comfortable one. A hybrid between a mattress and a roadblock, the work points to a possible dual outcome of this act of reclamation. Has the impact of roadblocks been softened or have our mattresses been hardened? – SA