While galleries and museums provide physical and figurative spaces for contemplation, they are rarely sites for real rest. In their collaboration as Black Power Naps, Fannie Sosa and Navild Acosta offer a place to reflect and settle with the rocking, circular bed of Chill Pill (Rockabye Baby), 2022. Currently on view in the exhibition “Indisposable: Tactics for Care and Mourning” at the Ford Foundation Gallery, the installation creates a cozy corner in the black-walled gallery, its round mattress piled high with cushions, all covered in a soft fabric hand-dyed blue, green, and purple. A halo of artificial hair and more dyed fabric hangs above the bed, encouraging visitors to let their hair down. Viewers who lie down can don headphones playing the soothing sounds of Acosta and Sosa singing the Latin American lullaby “Duerme Negrito” (“Sleep, Little Black One”)—about a mother who leaves her son to work in the fields without pay—or Argentinian singer Mercedes Sosa’s interpretation of Cuban folk icon Silvio Rodríguez’s “La Maza,” a poetic yet political meditation on belief systems.
While the installation may seem comforting, humorous, or playful, these sonic choices indicate it is also a critical gesture. Black Power Naps addresses the “sleep gap,” a deficit of rest that Black and Latinx folks often experience in a culture of relentless productivity; burnout is a constant existential threat, further sharpened by pandemic shortages (people of color make up a significant portion of essential workers). The artists frame lying down as protest against those conditions, inviting viewers to do something for the piece, and perhaps for themselves, by doing nothing. One might wake up with a more embodied understanding of the sonic and historical links among labor, rest, and protest.