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Blog - Raquel Meseguer

The Cartography of Rest


When you have a long term condition like chronic pain, you see and move through the city quite differently: I am always on the look out for places to lie down; I pace my activities meticulously so I don’t find myself out of the house for too long; and I am never far from a pit stop, somewhere I know it’s ok to lie down, even if not overly welcome. 

Photo credit: Matthew Sydney

Setting up the Mayfest Resting Space in the Arnolfini Front Room, has re-drawn the city for me: it has re-mapped the landscape and placed this space at the heart of the city, the pathways to and from it, in stark relief. Because this is a space where I am truly welcome to lie down. It’s transformed how I navigate the city: I’ve been into town more, engaged with the festival more, seen more art, because I know I have this space to fall back on (quite literally). So I am in denial about the end of the festival, and my map of the city reverting to what is was. I know I will miss it terribly.

This is why we are asking venues (theatres, galleries, independent cinemas) to join a Resting Spaces Network, and invite audience to lie down in their buildings. Our call to re-imagine our use of public space has caught the imagination of the public, and the responses have been heartening: you can now lie down to watch a film at the Watershed (Bristol) with monthly ‘horizontal’ screenings for a lying down audience in the pipeline; at Attenbourgh Arts Centre (Leicester) you can now lie down on bean bags to watch a performance; and both Ovalhouse and South East Dance, as they design their new flagship venues, have Resting Spaces in mind. So we are moving towards a Resting Space Network.

Dreams of Resting Spaces Conversation #2 is hosted by Brighton Fringe on 27th May, to consider these questions: 

  • How can be best affect the culture of a public space? (art? provocations? policy?). 
  • Do we need top down or grass roots action? 

Over the last 6 months, I’ve also gone beyond the ‘functional’ to ask what the practice of lying down does to our perceptions of the world, and what a collective act of lying down would do for our audience. Arguably it brings us into presence. So can we start to ask for art to be made with a lying down audience in mind? How would that stretch our practice? What new forms might arise?

I wouldn’t have come to this thinking without all your personal responses and provocations. Like Tim Ingolds’s idea of correspondence, I feel like you’ve bounced back little gems, insights and questions. So I invite you all to come and bounce your ideas, big and modest, blue sky thinking and low tech, to the next conversation. 

Sign up for your free ticket here:

Mayfest Resting Space @ Arnolfini Front Room

To find out about the BBC reporting on the project go to

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Deborah Caulfield
Deborah Caulfield
2 years ago

Interesting to see an access issue turned into an art project. I’d like to write some more comments but I need to lie down… I shall return.

Liam Robert Doyle
Liam Robert Doyle
2 years ago

Too little is known about the ‘power’ of rest. Much has been made of mindfulness methods as though a certain degree of energy or intensity is required to achieve the objective.
And yet a simple rest, allowing our bodies to float after finding our optimum physical resting position. Then slowing the mind to allow a stream of conciousness to appear, often resulting in the best ideas, solutions or strategies to cope or improve our situations.
Resting can often be the most productive exercise we undertake.

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