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Woman Creates Entire Art Project Out of the Art of Couch Surfing

Today's New York Times Home & Garden section profiles Kenya Robinson, an NYC woman who has slept in commercial spaces, pulled all-nighters in her studio, worked with media "like melted Goody combs, synthetic blond hair and women’s magazines," and "deploys parentheses around her last name, as in Ms. (Robinson)." Hmm, something tells us this gal's a struggling artist! Indeed Robinson is just finishing a project called "The Inflatable Mattress," in which she stays in a different apartment every week for 13 weeks, so long as she completes 10 hours of housework and the host provides the toothpaste. Some of Robinson's hosts are friends of friends; others are strangers but artists themselves who can appreciate her sense of purpose.

Photo by Robert Wright/NYT

The approval camp on this seems to be split. One of Robinson's host was so into the idea that he tidied up by changing out the shower curtain and whisked away all the cat hair in his two-bedroom Brooklyn pad.

Another host waxed nostalgic, speaking about how Robinson is “co-opting a social form—couch surfing—that’s part of the material fabric of modern life, and then putting it in the public sphere. So what does that feel like? To be honest, it was like having a close friend stay at your house. Plus she was super-tidy. I missed her when she left."

A third kind soul called "The Inflatable Mattress" is a “voyeuristic seven-day portal into the lives of others.”

However, it's Robinson's non-artist live-in boyfriend—the two share a one-bedroom apartment in Bed-Stuy—that takes the soberest stance. "Why are you doing this?” he asked, pleading with her to come home. “Do you really have to finish it?”

· The Serial Sleepover Artist [NYT]