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Ed Ruscha’s career-long exploration of horizontality has included compendia of the buildings of urban Los Angeles, word paintings, photo books, and prints running the full gamut of his readymade subjects, all of which highlight his admitted fascination with the language of landscape.
The mattress is a particular kind of landscape, though; a decidedly horizontal object and one that supports both physically and psychically, engendering the production of those imaginary landscapes called dreams.In his recent series, “Metro Mattresses”, Ruscha has produced an intimate portrait of a certain kind of dream, now encountered as a discarded object tossed out onto the street, which Ruscha photographed and then translated to the flat two-dimensional plane. What type of landscape is this mattress set? A clue is given by the reversal of the usual order of things – box spring on top of mattress, bloody smears moving against the laws of gravity. Beneath the transparent fabric cover of the box spring, we see what looks like a picture frame, or a cross – both sights of imaginary projection. In Ruscha’s exacting image, who could blame us for believing that maybe there really is no difference between the two?