Studies of Cohabitation
an exhibition by Kel Mur
For most of my life, I idealized living with a partner. I thought it would be the most beautiful and life-completing thing that would ever happen to me. I would daydream about what it would mean to share an apartment, share lives, and constantly share a bed. Surely it would make life more tolerable. Surely it would make everything easier. Surely we would be effortlessly in love all the time. While sometimes these ideas ring true, I did not anticipate that cohabitation would also disturb the parts of me that were too used to being alone.
We spend roughly a third of our lives in bed. Bedsheets hold us, wrap us, and cradle us during times of rest and in exploits of pleasure. The bed and its accouterment are a gateway to other states of being - whether entered through sleep or otherwise. Bedding might also be the first thing to get neglected when we fall behind in household chores. Our sheets rub on our skin and, in time, know us intimately. They smell like us and hold filth and soil from our bodies. For many of us who cohabit, this space is also shared nightly with our partner. It is between and on top of the sheets that our bodies merge into this fabric.
For this series of studies, I explore what it means to share a home with my romantic partner. Each piece shows our bodies segmented and intertwined as a contemplation of what it means to learn to navigate each other’s idiosyncrasies with care. We are each fragile in our own way.
These works are made by taking plaster molds of my and my partner’s bodies and then casting them with strips of salvaged bedsheets embedded with wax. Each study forms a shape similar to a cocoon or a chrysalis, gesturing towards creating a space that nurtures transformation and maturation as we learn to live with each other.
This work is lovingly dedicated to my partner, Josh, who makes everything feel possible and constantly enriches my life with his intellect and incredible ability to love.