Betrayed by Forgetting, 1996
An accumulation of words.
Detail of Betrayed by Forgetting.
I remember thinking about the implied violence in many of the phrases that were part of many people’s childhood experiences. In part, I was inspired by Alice Miller’s work For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence. In it she looks at the childhoods of some notable people and how they may have been shaped by the actions of their parents and society in general.
Betrayed by Forgetting is a double bed frame and mattress with over 250 phrases etched into the wood of the frame. These sentences list some of the stock phrases that parents use, often blindly and automatically, with their children to exert control. Some of the phrases include: “I feed and clothe you and this is how you repay me” and “Don’t you dare cry or I will give you something to cry about”. The mattress looking deceptively comfortable at a distance is constructed from thousands of prickly burr pods.