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Deconstructing Bedbugs

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: | No Comments »

Stefany Anne Golberg, artist, writer, and member of the Flux Factory art collective, has written an extraordinary piece on the existential dilemma of bedbugs.

It begins with the tale of a loft infested with bedbugs.  In the midst of a long struggle against the pests one of the victims declares she does not care about the bedbugs anymore.  For most of us, unthinkable!  Whether we have them or not, we cannot stop caring.  For we are either desperate to get rid of them or terrified we will get them.  From there, Golberg explores the territory of the essential nightmares of our lizard brains:

In our beds, in the dark, we are vulnerable. We succumb to an experience that is more terrifying than death — a living breathing state in which we have no control. We subconsciously tell ourselves a story every night to make the act of sleeping possible: that we will be safe and awaken safely at daybreak. Bedbugs fuck with this narrative. At night, we really belong to the bedbugs, these stupid disgusting creatures we cannot reason with, cannot easily destroy, who are not interested in our food, who will not go willingly into our traps. “Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite” is just another name for nightmares. Close your eyes, it says, and do not dream of evil.

She takes us through Camus’  The Plague and asks us how we would feel about the ancient pests if we imagined they were tiny dinosaurs. Or if we could view flies with the same delight as bees, like tiny winged kittens.  We subject our own relative experience so totally on the existence of these creatures, is it possible to change the lens with which we view them and learn something about ourselves?

For a single, weary loft resident who can’t bring herself to care anymore this “acceptance without resignation” seems tantalyzingly possible.