The installation was built using 12 repurposed shipping containers arranged at seemingly precarious angles to create the impression of a person lying down. Johnson described the piece as drawing on an art tradition of reclining figures and topical world events, such as the Ever Given container ship, which got stuck in the Suez Canal in 2021.
Johnson spent two years and a significant sum completing the sculpture, which, post-debut at Desert X, was facing disassembly. The artist was instead able to donate the piece to Michael Phelan, founder of the art fair Marfa Invitational, who is creating a new sculpture park just outside the city.
Sleeping Figure will appear alongside a collection of six other pieces and is set to be located close to freight train tracks outside Marfa.