What happens when art and dreams collide? Galerie pompom director George Adams has curated the work of eight diverse artists for ‘Possible Dream Theory #2’, which will see the seemingly random morph into a vivid dreamscape and prompt us to question reality and fiction. Subconscious and the preconscious are on the table revealing what dreams mean to different artists while examining the art cannons they are created within. Studying the post-human body or personal ambition through the intimate gallery space, ‘Possible Dream Theory #2’ offers insight into the essence of humanness.
Our bodies are encouraged to explore desire, as well as lean into a dislocating experience where multiple personalities might occupy the mind. However, can dreams unmask truth or enlighten us?
Kenny Pittock’s fantasy of finding an abandoned lottery ticket on the back of the shopping lists he collects in Sydney’s Newtown has inspired a sculpture of the mystic ticket, questioning certainty and the value attributed to found objects. Extending into a continued narrative Pittock creates space for dreaming to finish in a warped reality. This interpretation, opens the other side of dreams, the aspiration side of dream theory, entering a more philosophical argument, rather than psychological.
The psychological underpinning of dreams that Freud and Jung explored, inspiring the Surrealists from the 1930s, creeps into the magic work of Emily Parsons-Lord. The soft, slow dripping of gallium – a material that invites the bizarre through its low melting point of 30 degrees, a metal that melts in your hand – oozing out of the gallery wall. The passing of time as an unconscious act plays out through Parsons-Lord’s work, metamorphosing dreaming through an object. Likewise, the surrealist dreamscape is the centre of Drew Connor Holland’s art; his recurring motifs of cowboys and unicorns nod to a dysphoric future with appropriated cultural nostalgia and representation of shared virtual space.
A provocation to reality is found in works by Matthew Harris and Philjames, faces and places are not what they seem and require another glance. The classic notions of nightmares, clowns and demons, play in the constructed narrative. Philijames says his paintings ‘convey that eerie dream feeling of reality vs fantasy [that] you sometimes wake up feeling.’ Harris has also bridged this conceptual see-saw between traditional art and the contemporary. For example, Manet’s Olympia (1863) has been reconstituted into a male, black body. Olympia’s defiant hand covering up her sex has been replaced with Harris’ friend Michael’s erect penis. The style is rendered in primary colours leaving the art to be self-reducing. The two artists mirror similar concepts invoking nonsensical dreams.
In this sense, the body has been warped into nonsense for Laura Moore, nova Milne, and Polly Borland’s twisted depictions. In one version, Moore blends the misshapen figure into a transparent box, creating a contorted image of the human physique. Form is revealed to be a construction, an extension of self. Borland’s addition of this is entirely distorted, squeezed into coloured tights, in post-human photographs that mystify the body. Borland has said she aims to recreate a ‘mythical dreamlike state’ in her work; the preconscious plays with the unconscious. nova Milne completely disrupts the body, through college with magazines, book covers, fabric, and ink, amongst other elements. They say of the work, ‘we discovered the subject had supernaturally and poetically returned her gaze in the double exposure, thereby closing a loop.’ A dream state mind frame is entered through manipulating the images, rendering the audience to think about their own unconscious.
This juggling act of the mind, which plays out in our sleep, renders these notions of preconscious and unconscious innate. Artists are given free rein to enter the inner depths of the human psyche, and it plays into a stimulating discussion; especially as contemporary art is dismantled through modern themes. The body doesn’t necessarily appear in each artwork in ‘Possible Dream Theory #2’, but the bodies are in the room considering the concepts. The lending ideas from post-humanness fit within ambition and aspiration, as we deliberate our experiences of dreaming through constructed fantasies.
Emma-Kate Wilson is a British writer based in Sydney, who examines contemporary art in the Asia-Pacific region.
14 November to 16 December, 2018