Sound Asleep (The Sleep of Reason - After Goya, 1797), 1998

Installation with 2-channel audio, 2 down pillows, speakers. Installation dimensions variable.

This work conflates the meaning of different states of consciousness. It is inspired by "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters", an etching by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Created between 1797 and 1799, it is the 43rd of 80 etchings, a Drypoint Aquatint, making up the suite of satires titled, Los Caprichos.

“An examination of eighteenth-century medical discourses strengthens the diagnosis of melancholy as a disease that troubles the faculty of imagination. Accordingly, the melancholy in The Sleep of Reason will be perceived as an actual condition afflicting the protagonist rather than a conceptual or allegorical idea. Goya’s interest in gestures, however, went beyond his recognition of the effectiveness in art. He was imposed to use them in his daily life as well, since his severe illness of 1782 left him deaf. Sign language had an acute meaning in his life, as his letter from 22 March 1798 to King Carlos IV testifies: ‘For the last six years I have been greatly indisposed, especially having lost my hearing to the extent that I am unable to understand anything without the use of sign language.'”

- Guy Tal