Sonya Rapoport’s seminal project, “Objects on My Dresser”, was created in eleven “phases” over five years (1979-83.) The final, 12th phase, was created in the last year of Rapoport’s life and exhibited posthumously (2015). The phases range from complex interactive performances to single-page publications and were exhibited at such venues as Franklin Furnace, NY; 80 Langton Street, SF; Artists Space, NY, and published in “Leonardo” and “Heresies” magazines.
“Objects on My Dresser” is a unique and significant contribution to the Women’s Movement and Conceptualism. Rapoport applied the principles of scientific visualization to the analysis of a personal psychological space during the mourning period for her mother. In the manner of Mary Kelly’s “Post-Partum Document” (1973-79) that mapped theoretically and “scientifically” an evolving mother-child relationship, the project is informed by feminism and psychoanalysis.
“Objects on My Dresser” makes use of twenty nine personal objects sourced from the Tansu dresser in the artist’s bedroom. Rapoport opened and unpacked the psychological space of these objects in a systematic and translatable way. The project is her study of the immensities that emanate from everyday objects, subjected to psychoanalysis via an exercise in associative word-image relationships. This became the basis for multiple thematic evolutions and public interactions that document evolving responses to the objects and their connective associations.
Rapoport was one of the first women artists to receive an MA in Painting at UC Berkeley (1949) and started her career as an Abstract Expressionist painter. “Objects on My Dresser” marks Rapoport’s departure from her painting practice and lays the foundation for her later interactive performance and media work.
Art Historians Terri Cohn and Alla Efimova have created a carefully researched and informative series of video interviews where they discuss “Objects On My Dresser” at length with Sonya Rapoport’s collaborators and scholars: