Nocturnal pieces


"I would fall asleep, and often I would be awake again for short snatches only, just long enough to hear the regular creaking of the wainscot, or to open my eyes to settle the shifting kaleidoscope of the darkness, to savour, in an instantaneous flash of perception, the sleep which lay heavy upon the furniture, the room, the whole surroundings of which I formed but an insignificant part and whose unconsciousness I should very soon return to share.” - Marcel Proust

For Nocturnal Pieces, Stenram investigates sleeping and dreaming. Made while staying mostly indoors during the second winter of the Covid crisis, the series is an open-ended exploration of the process of falling asleep; the transformation of active structured bodies into unconscious amorphous objects surrounded by the darkness of the night.

The first part of this investigation are a series of scans of the artist's saliva and the surface of her bed after a night of intense dreaming - futile attempts to capture the aftermath of these events.

The second part are a series of scans of the furniture in Stenram's apartment - particular attention is paid to a nighttable, which stood in close proximity to the bed. The surface of the furniture is repeatedly scanned, each time the form changes and is unfixed. These images are not soft, yet they are in part inspired by Claes Oldenburg's soft sculptures, which the art historian Max Kosloff called "comatose objects". These are sleepy pieces, objects that are sagging, falling, losing their shape, form and boundaries.

When we are asleep, memories and recent experiences as well as current noises and smells all get integrated into our dream state. There is a dissolution of the boundaries of the body - we are not so distinctly contained anymore. The scans are perhaps also attempts to grasp impermanence - waking up, dreams slipping out of reach, matter decaying and bodies ageing.

The project initially came out of a converstaion-project with artist Tome Lovelace, initiated by Chapters (an online platform curated by Emma Backlund and Trine Stephensen). You can follow this conversation on

  Nighttable (Back I) / 2021
  Nighttable (Back II) / 2021
  Nighttable (Drawers I and II) / 2021
  “For night - through a major difference from day - is no more external than it is internal. Day is wholly outside; day is before our eyes, at the tip of our hands and feet on our tongue and in the porches of our ears. Night identifies outside with inside; the eyes sees in it the underside of things, the back of the eyelids, the invisible layer of the other side of things, the underpinnings, crypts, skins turned inside out. It is the world of substance, that which exists underneath and itself exists on nothing else….” - Jean-Luc Nancy, from The Fall of Sleep
  Nighttable (Left) / 2021
  Nighttable (Right) / 2021
  “I now belong only to myself, having fallen into myself and mingled with that night where everything becomes indistinct to me but more than anything myself. I mean: everything becomes reabsorbed into me without allowing me to distinguish me from anything, But I also mean: more than anything, I myself become indistinct. I no longer properly distinguish myself from the world or from others, from my own body or from my mind, either, For I can no longer hold anything as an object, as a perception or a thought, without this very thing making itself felt as being at the same time myself and something other than myself. A simultaneity of what is one’s own and not one’s own occurs as this distinction falls away” Jean-Luc Nancy, from The Fall of Sleep
  Sideboard / 2021
  Saliva / 2021 / [details below]
  “I am”, however, heard murmured by the unconsciousness of the dreamer, testifies less to an “I” strictly conceived than to a “self” simply withdrawn into self, out of reach of any questioning and of any representation. Murmured by unconsciousness, “I am” becomes unintelligible; it is a kind of grunt or sigh that escapes from barely parted lips. It is a preverbal stream that deposits on the pillow a barely visible trace, as if a little saliva had leaked out of that sleeping mouth.” - Jean-Luc Nancy, from The Fall of Sleep
  below: Bed / 2021