All images couresy of Katy Strange
Katy Strange is a Dutch art student who shares her bed with lovers and friends. Over two years in a share-house in Maastricht, she slept with fifteen people, but not in the way you’re imagining. For Katy, sleeping means just that, combined with some photography. I was interested in why she’s sufficiently excited by sleep to chronicle it for two years, and what she learned in the process.
VICE: Hi Katy. First up, what’s so special about sleep?
Katy Strange: Well, beds are a really private place. Nowadays everybody has Facebook and social media and it is place you share your intimate thoughts and my bed is the only private place the Internet hasn’t seen before. It’s the place where I am myself. A lot of people think this story is all about sex but it’s not. It’s about friendship and getting ready for the adult world.
So how did you shoot the photos?
Everything was really staged. I just wanted to photograph everyone who slept in my bed. So I set up a tripod and I had this remote and I gave them instructions like, your face should be liked this and you should lay down like this. That sort of thing.
Why did you want to stage the photos?
I was trying to recreate the story that I had with every particular friend. Every friend is something different to me. Some of them are fellow students from the art academy and one of them is now my ex. So I’m trying to capture different stories about how I experience student life. You get to know a lot of different people and you get to know yourself.
So to be clear, did you have sex with any of them?
My ex-boyfriend, he’s the only one I really had sex with. I think a lot of people on the Internet think I had sex with every person. I get a lot of messages from people saying like wow! You had a lot of lovers, and then I explain that it’s not really about that. It’s about friendship and exploring yourself as an art student. Some of the people I photographed are friends that have taken care of me, cooked for me and partied with me.
Who was your strangest bedmate?
Well, every friend has a weird moment when they sleep. There’s also the photo were I’m sleeping alone and a lot of people in my exhibition said oh, that’s so cute, you’re sleeping alone, but it’s actually a sad story. I was sleeping alone because someone tried to have sex with me without consent. I was just sleeping and he wouldn’t take no for an answer so he tried something, it’s a moment of sadness.
That’s tough. Given that, why do you enjoy sleeping with people?
I guess I don’t like to be alone. This was the first time I had my own place and moved out from my parent’s home. So I just wanted to offer my friends a place to stay and my bedroom is the only place where I’m myself. It’s my comfort zone and it was nice to share this place with my dearest friends. A lot of my friends still didn’t have their own place. They still lived with their parents.
What happens when they fart?
That hasn’t happened before. But I don’t think it’s weird anyway, we are all human.
So not one of you fifteen friends farted over the two years?
No, but I always wait until my friend falls asleep so I can relax and they feel comfortable. After I know they were really asleep, I could sleep as well because sometimes I have this weird positions or I open my mouth and drool and I don’t want my friends to see that.
What about the outfits? Are you more of a naked sleeper?
Well sometimes, but with my friends I don’t sleep naked. In most of the pictures I’m sleeping with clothes on, but in some I’m naked to make the connection that it was more than a friendship. When I am alone I like to sleep naked, or just panties. Especially when it’s warm.
Do you have a favourite bedmate so far?
Well I guess you can already tell from the photos. He’s still my favourite human being.
Follow Laura Rodriguez on Twitter: @laurarc91