Ilona Gaynor


The Labour of Sleep           
High Definition Video
8 Hours

Production Credits
Typography by Craig Sinnamon
Film Assist Fulla Abdul-Jabbar

The Wellcome Trust, UK
Research conducted under The Sociability of Sleep Research Residency at McGill University

Special Thanks
Aleksandra Kaminska, Alanna Thain and Josianne Barrette-Moran.

The Labour of Sleep is a film that follows the housekeeper of a hotel (through her viewpoint); uninterupted as she moves through a hotel of occupied floors, rooms and spaces. Cleaning, managing and tending to her designated tasks throughout a single 8 hour shift.

While the concept of a hotel and its entire industry centers its revenue around the concept of a restful sleep, its not entirely uncommon in which the phenomena of the ‘first night effect’ contributes to poor sleep in a very specific variety of insonmia in which a new environment effects our ability to feel safe  in a strange place, and therefor our ability to sleep; something thats further facilitated by the intensity of global travel and the mobility of contemporary work. One of the largest labour unions in the US is made up of those working in the hospitality sectors, with more labour law related torts than any other sector in US history. As an industry, workers are having to fight unsafe work environments, lack of contracted hours, sexual harrasment and a multitude of issues.

Within this context the Labour of Sleep reckons with both our inability to sleep and the labour that is required, at great risk to maintain the notion of a perfect sleeping environment, even if sleep is frutsratingly illusive; from one worker trying to sleep in a bed prepared by another. The film is designed to be screened from midnight to 8am: an 8 hour duration which is the length of the ‘recommended daily sleep allowance’ by the National Sleep Foundation.

If suffering with insomnia, one can choose to endure the labour of another, in a viewing duration that is both designed to critique, shift temporalities and exhuast its viewer; ultimately putting them to sleep.