Ohio Authority | Sarah Sphar  |  March 11, 2011

Couched In History: Object of Comfort, Object D'Art

The humble couch: Ubiquitous in living rooms, dorm rooms, secondhand stores and Dumpsters everywhere. It's both necessity and luxury.

The word couch comes from the Old French couche, meaning "bed," and from coucher, meaning "put to bed, lay down." Variously referred to as a sofa, loveseat, divan, settee or davenport, the couch has evolved from mere furniture to entertainment center, gathering place and art object.

The Los Angeles-based collective Machine Project introduced Clevelanders to couchbleachers, sculptor Nate Page's creation made from thrifted couches. The work is part of the Camp Cleveland exhibition at SPACES Gallery, on view now through April 1. Available for a climb or just a gander, couchbleachers provide a curious but familiar set piece for other Camp Cleveland events.

How did the unassuming couch endure the march of history? Have couch-like structures made their way into the animal kingdom? What is the role of the couch in art? On Saturday, March 12, contrabassist, guitarist, pianist, singer, composer and songwriter; linguist and self-described "science charlatan of sorts" Laura Steenberge recounts the detailed history of couch furniture, with couchbleachers as a fitting backdrop. Everything from depictions of couches on Grecian urns to makeshift sofas fashioned by crabs from sea anemone will be discussed.

The lecture begins at 7 pm and is free and open to the public. For more information about Machine Project and Camp Cleveland, visit SPACES online.

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