INTIMACY AND SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS Hunter (foreground) and company.
"Dancing In Your Bedroom," at the Chazan Gallery at the Wheeler School (228 Angell Street, Providence, through April 9), appears to have teleported stuffed animals, posters, bookbags, and the disheveled beds of teens right into the space. Caroline Woolard, a Brooklyn artist who studied at Wheeler, developed the installation of eight beds.
A Bob Marley blanket covers one mattress. Next to it on a bedstand are prom photos, a copy of Ram Dass's story of psychedelic self-discovery, Remember, Be Here Now, and a notebook open to a page of writing about "how is it possible to keep up with every thought that runs through your head."
Under a Jonas Brothers poster across the room sits a bed surrounded by a bank statement, gray pants, a sweatshirt, and a notebook with writings worrying about compulsive eating and the entry, "Do I feel beautiful because I fit into an image that is accepted by the masses/plastered everywhere by the media." A copy of Teen Vogue sits atop a bed with a black and pink comforter. In one corner, a laundry basket overflows with clothes.
Next to another bed are a boy's notes about a friend who insists she's a woman now: "I'm really shocked. I can't believe it. She's a girl. So I challenge her . . . so when she replies that yes, in her mind, she is a woman, I am upset."
Press your ear into one of the six pillows attached to the gallery walls and you hear recordings of people reading high school diaries. A woman: "Had to let him know the truth that I didn't like him . . . So I told him online." Girls complain about parents and fret over who might ask them to the prom. A woman says, "I found out he likes me so now it's so weird."
The recreation of teens' bedrooms feels raw and vulnerable, but unprocessed. Woolard struggles to make the voyeuristic peek into the teen world of proms and annoying parents feel fresh. And the installation could use more reflection, like the pillow recording of a guy now embarrassed by his high school diary full of notes about girls he desired. He'd like to believe he's more mature now, and adds, "I hope this is not a full representation of who I was back then."
One recent Saturday, Mary Paula Hunter of Providence choreographed and performed a related dance across the beds with six members of her teen dance company Jump! (Hunter and Woolard said documentation of the dance would be installed inside a tent inside the gallery.) The girls pretended to sleep on the beds, then made the beds, laid on their backs and kicked their legs up, and jumped on the beds. Meanwhile Hunter announced, "Being a dance teacher has one real benefit — if you get into bed at night and can't fall asleep you can design a class." The girls stood next to beds and danced ballet basics — tondu, plié, arabesque, fifth position. "Obviously I liked recognition," Hunter continued, "but I wanted to be alone in my house dancing around every day."