Book Review: Bedmounds by Noah Kalina
Noah Kalina’s sculpted bedding photos are a combination of obvious, albeit clever staging and the lucky happenstance combinations of…
Noah Kalina’s sculpted bedding photos are a combination of obvious, albeit clever staging and the lucky happenstance combinations of pattern, texture, lighting, and sculptural gravitas. His witty placement of lights, mirrors, camera placement and bedding remind me of Christo’s wrapped Pont Neuf bridge in Paris, or the covered Reichstag in Berlin, or any of his draped landscapes: we are presented with something so very common or accepted to the point of dismissal, but after the artist styles the scene we are surprised at how fresh and completely new our perspective allows the object or setting to transcend the banal and become extraordinary.
A lovely aspect of the artful image placement and pacing in the layout of the book is the ability of the reader to view one of his bedmounds, take in the setting of the scene, then when the page is turned — we are transported to another scene and mound in almost the exact placement as the page before. This allows the strength of repetition in this project to really come across. This déjá-vu aspect of presenting multiple bedmounds gave me a satisfied smile of appreciation of Noah presenting variations of the same subject each time in a different room, different bed, different town, different time of day. There will be no grand reveal or shocking surprise on the following pages; yet I found myself eagerly paging through the book like a child who asks someone to show them a captivating magic trick over and over.
We see a variety of settings in Noah’s scenes. He presents spartan rooms with very little adornment, rustic settings with exposed ceiling beams, the stereotypical hotel rooms in anytown USA, luxurious digs, or a small room with a metal frame bunk bed (complete with upper and lower bedmounds). Each of these rooms contained a bedmound that Noah created. There is something about these scenes that I couldn’t put my finger on. Something akin to the driven behavior of Richard Dreyfuss’ character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) — he is driven to make and remake the form, shape and texture of the Devils’s Tower monument after his contact with extraterrestrials. Something unexplained is directing him to form this shape. Dreyfuss’s character is not sure exactly why, but he is still driven to do this repeatedly. Kalina is aware of his intention, yet that fabulous tension of repeated exploration and experimentation is also present in his creations.
I state my enjoyment and appreciation of this book; I don’t often do it so directly. But I stared for a good 10 minutes at one of Noah’s images. A striped quilt bedmound sits on a modest bed in a darkened room with light-colored wood panelling. There is a hint of stained wood café shutters at the left edge of the frame, an antique pendulum wall clock at the right edge. On the back wall of the room we see a framed painting, or lithographic print, or painting (it doesn’t matter) of young woman holding an infant. The woman’s long, exaggerated neckline goes from the base of her head into her bare shoulders and back in a long, slim S-shape. Once I noticed that the bedmound echoes the same curves as the artwork on the wall, the shapes in the fabric transform into the equivalent of a nurturing embrace. Kalina’s Pietå in cotton.
by Noah Kalina
Essay by Zach Vitale
Hardcover, 7.625 x 10.25 inches
Edition of 500
Published by Yoffy Press — http://www.yoffypress.com
Noah Kalina is a photographer and filmmaker. His client list includes Google, Gucci, and Disney, and his photographs have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Wired, and Le Monde. His two-decade project, Everyday, was parodied on “The Simpsons.” He lives in upstate New York with a rooster named Marcel. In his free time, he makes bedmounds.
Originally published at F-Stop Magazine.