Setting out to depict every aspect of the way women experience hotels, Cesarine has curated the work of over 20 female-identifying artists in building rooms 2348 and 2350 of the fair. Kat Toronto’s (a.k.a. Miss Meatface) polaroids featuring kinky sex games, and Cesarine’s own neon signs reading “LOVER,” “LUST,” and “YES,” riff on the positive experiences one might have in a hotel room. But her exhibit doesn’t skirt past the possibility of violence having gone down during the visits of past guests.
Katrina Majkut’s ominous cross stitch rendering of a “sexual assault evidence collection kit” hangs on the front door of the room, greeting guests as they enter. And a plush, old-school handgun lies on the bedside table. Pretty much everywhere you look in (Hotel) XX, there’s an intimate story being told through watercolor or weaving about all the bad and good stuff that happens behind closed doors in an unfamiliar space.
Tell me about the pieces you chose to display at (Hotel) XX.
I wanted to create an immersive experience of a hotel, and create the framework for the exhibit of women’s intimate experiences staying in hotels. I really wanted to capture this component of people having so many different experiences in these rooms, although [in this show] there’s a massive theme revolving around intimacy––whether that translates to the intimacy of an erotic scenario, or it plays out with doing something very mundane like lying in bed naked on the phone. Pretty much everything in the room is artwork, from the furniture, to the rug on the floor, to the camera made of porcelain. And they all touch on the different things that take place in rooms by the guests, and the mystery and the intimacy that occurs in private spaces.
Why did you choose to focus specifically on women’s experiences?
I prefer to focus on women’s experiences and the female gaze, that’s an ongoing theme in my curation and my work as an artist. I also feel like for thousands of years it’s been all about men’s point of view on everything, so with this year’s theme of SPRING/BREAK Art Show being “Stranger Comes to Town,” I felt like women’s points of view are often ignored when you look at movies and the history of many creative scenarios. It’s really important to, through this show, touch on the different voices women have in private spaces, particularly in hotel rooms, because the hotel adds this component of displacement, of a transient, mysterious place. Women’s experiences in a hotel are very particular as well, because if they’re traveling alone there may be a component of fear that I don’t think men would experience.
Right, and you illustrated that by juxtaposing dark works with renderings of more lighthearted experiences.
Obviously not everybody’s experience in a hotel is a good one––some people may go to a hotel and be sexually assaulted, or raped, or it may be a sex worker who gets assaulted with a client. I felt like it was important to add that element of danger that draws on what you would see at the scene of a crime. I think it’s important to juxtapose people that may be exploring fetish and BDSM, with [the idea that] maybe someone was murdered or assaulted. Each artist brought to the exhibit a very creative point of view on the subject.
What drew you to the mystery of a hotel room?
What takes place behind closed doors in hotels is not always mundane. A lot of times it can be dark, or erotic, or dangerous. And that element of mystery definitely was a source of inspiration from the artistic standpoint, versus someone just watching TV or sleeping in the room. There is a big mix though––the textile piece of a woman sleeping in bed, that one is almost romantic. There are pieces that are very empowering and positive explorations of intimacy and then there are the darker, more subversive components that add to the depth of the very experience of being a human. Hotels add to that drama.
Which is your favorite piece on display?
The entire installation, being there and exploring all those different pieces carries the most weight. I feel like they work together in a really strong way. But I love the piece by Joetta Maue, that is a work on the bed––her whole body of work explores what happens on bed sheets, whether there’s a couple sleeping in bed, or a woman sleeping, dreaming about her lover, or a pregnant woman. I also love above the bed, Suzanne Wright has a piece that’s very orgasmatic of a woman with legs spread and rockets shooting up around her. That’s such an expressive, captivating representation of the female orgasm.
What work did you contribute?
I do a lot of neons by hand so I featured a whole series of neons that I’ve been working on. I also premiered a portrait a series that I did with a sex worker by the name of Maidenfed, who’s a dominatrix. The experiences of a sex worker, where the hotel room is often their place of work, was an important piece to include.