Image Credit: Artist      

Pillow Fight, 2019 – ongoing

Used pillowcases and used medical supplies

Used Pillowcases and Used Medical Supplies

Image Description: Eight white and cream pillowcases stained from use sit vertically huddled together in a corner on hardwood floor. They reach upwards and lean structurally against white walls with wood trim at the bottom. One pillowcase is the size of a long body pillow. They are filled with medical supplies which tug the fabric and cause them to bulge. Other than hints of colors and shapes, their contents cannot be seen. 


Pillow Fight consists of pillowcases stained from use and filled with years worth of medical supplies from both the artist’s life and gifted by their friends and family. The pillowcases huddle together in a corner and their contents are obscured. This opacity redirects away from pathology toward the necessity of care networks and support systems. Pillow Fight is an ongoing collective portrait that visualizes interdependence and togetherness, growing in number of pillowcases as time and supplies accumulate and is newly composed upon each installation.


Informed by queer-crip experience, community, and culture, I work to critique standards of productivity, notions of normative embodiment, and the commodification of rest. My interdisciplinary practice depicts the materiality of interdependence through used, found, or accumulated objects, slow pacing, and through collaboration. Drawing from both sites of and barriers to care, rest, and togetherness, I argue that to celebrate diverse bodyminds requires an anti-capitalist reconfiguration of time and value. Bedding is one of my primary materials which allows me to explore the bed as a site of collectivity and protest, as well as redefine what is typically considered to count as “work”. Through juxtapositions of domestic, industrial, and natural materials, such as diamond-plate flooring, coffee beans, and sweat-stained memory foam, I address the incompatibility of our needs with societal values of self-reliance, “hard work” and individualism. These tensions ask us to embrace slowness as well as recognize and honor our needs which are too often suppressed, consciously or unconsciously, to conform to white supremacist ideals of urgency, perfectionism, professionalism, and endless productivity. While the work speaks to the expansiveness of the self, specifics regarding the body and identity often remain opaque. Negating the demand placed on marginalized groups to provide an explanation, proof, or diagnosis, to reveal or obscure becomes a tactic in my practice as I navigate the politics of visibility, 24/7 society, and my own access needs as a chronically ill autistic trans person.

Artist Bio

Alex Dolores Salerno (b. 1994, homeland of the Nacotchtank, Anacostan, and Piscataway people, also known as Washington D.C.) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Lenapehoking, also known as Brooklyn, NY. Salerno received their MFA from Parsons School of Design and their BS from Skidmore College. They have exhibited at the Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt), Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo de Castellón (Castellón), ARGOS centre for audiovisual arts (Brussels), Art Windsor-Essex (Windsor), The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation’s 8th Floor Gallery, the Ford Foundation Gallery (NYC), among others. Salerno is a recipient of the 2022 Wynn Newhouse Awards, and their work has been featured in the New York Times and Art in America. They have been an artist in residence at Art Beyond Sight’s Art & Disability Residency (2019-2020), the Artist Studios Program at the Museum of Arts and Design (2021), the Visual Artist AIRspace Residency at Abrons Arts Center (2022-2023), and they are currently in residence at BRIClab: Contemporary Art (2023-2024).