Feeling tired? Studies show that Black Americans are twice as likely to suffer from lack of sleep and rest remains a luxury for many people of color. Afro-Latinx artists Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa are out to change that. Black Power Naps, currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, invites patrons to unburden their load and take some respite in the interactive multi-platform exhibit to reclaim our power in rest, leisure and downtime.

Here are four things we've learned from the installation and its creators.

1. Black Power Naps is a global movement.

Acosta and Sosa want people of color across the globe to understand the importance of rest and relaxation. Along with a documentary they’ve produced, “we have VR elements that will become the consciousness of Black Power Naps called “Emotion,” a bot that is meant to do the emotional labor of answering all the hard questions about why we need Black power naps,” Acosta reveals. The artists are also seeking out international destinations for Black Power Naps to host residencies and retreats.

2. Black Power Naps is an interactive experience.

For the installation at the MoMA, “It’s a very calming sensory feeling,” explains Sosa. “There are three beds, and two of them are vibrating with sound, which creates a relaxing effect on the body and redistributes the water in the body since the body is 75 percent water. And the last is a rocking bed.” Guests can stay as long as they want (but have to take off their shoes).

“We actually have had a lot of children and young adults come to us and express that they didn't know art could be like this, that art could be something you can lay on, touch and be involved in with,” Sosa says. “The observation is obviously about how restful the space is, but also a wider conversation about what art is and the function of art. I think this is really encouraging young people to think differently and to enlarge their conception and dreams and that is really the goal of the space.”

Black Power Naps.Image: courtesy the artists.
Black Power Naps . Image: courtesy of Navild Acosta and Fannie Sosa.

3. Poor living conditions often contribute to a lack of rest.

“Less access to healthy food, schools, transportation and childcare, long work hours—all have left people tired,” declares Acosta, who is of Caribbean heritage. “In my migrant family, them having to hold many jobs that were under the table and an abusive work schedule really contributed to their lack of sleep. We're seeing a big disparity in access points and having more consistency not just for sleep, but also for rest, leisure and idle time.”

4. Sleep deprivation was a cruel part of enslavement.

“It was Frederick Douglass that said that the most punished crime was sleeping at the plantation,” shares Sosa. “We have the Haitian mythology of the zombie, someone who's dead but alive. Those who were enslaved would have 3 or 4 hour nights to sleep, which was ruptured with sound and corporal punishment to break the will of the enslaved.” Adds Acosta, “Reparations should not just be an economic ask, it should also be an energetic repairer.”

Experience Black Power Naps: La Biblioteca Is Open, at the MoMA in New York City through April 16, 2023.