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Perfectly Good Headboards installation 2014



Perfectly Good Headboards is an idea that came to me more than a decade ago, out of a lifetime of curbside scavenging and the observation that, in LA at least, one of the most commonly abandoned objects is the Perfectly Good Headboard.

Rational explanations for this prevalence may be argued -- there only appear to be more PGHs because the more resellable stuff is scooped up pronto; or, nobody actually wants PGHs, but are persuaded as newlyweds that they do, so they are constantly discarded, never redeemed.

But over time I began wondering if there wasn't more to it. What the hell were these pieces of furniture, anyway? Some kind of decorative wall to save you from propping yourself up against a real wall? Are they some kind of holdover from Victorian times, now becoming obsolescent, hence the glut? Or had the homeless headboard population remained a constant back to the dawn of civilization (Note to self: Check Pompeii)?

Or are there people obsessed with having the latest in headboard fashions, buying a new one every 18 months and casting last year's model into the street? Did people actually pick them up from the curb and use them? Then rerelease them the next time they moved?


These possibilities began taking the semblance of a system of information, with the richly variegated individual manifestations of the PGHs (and you have no idea until you begin looking!) as the semiotic vocabulary, streaming in a circulatory pattern that encompassed the entire city, and probably beyond -- the PGH Network.

Perfectly Good Headboards coursing through the domestic infrastructure of contemporary Los Angeles, entering dwellings to absorb and encode the psychic residue of dreams and sex, drowsy pillow talk and insomia-fueled arguments in the dormant organic cell structures of their wooden curlicues -- returning to the street to jostle data with other Messenger PGHs, and perhaps on to another dwelling, another layer of dreams and chatter…

I realized I wanted to dam this flow -- to make its qualities more visible and to myself and others, for closer examination and broader comprehension of this mysterious language. What was needed was the creation of a wall-sized reservoir that could theoretically remain in place, while it was emptied and refilled with a steady flow of PGHs.

While ideally this would be a permanent installation, or even a series of PGH Stations, the opportunity to assemble a first draft for China Adams' LA WOOD show is an invaluable step in PGH research. The elements of this installation were collected in the metro Los Angeles are over a 3 week period in Sept/Oct 2014. Thanks to Daniel Hawkins, Don Suggs, Linda Stark, Barbara Schwerdt, Erik Knutzen, and many others for their keen eyes and pickup trucks, and to China Adams and Winter Jenssen for doing the installation.


--Doug Harvey, Oct 18, 2014