Jul. 25, 2012 - Issue #875: Shout Out Out Out Out
I Had this DreamUntil Sat, Aug 4
Works by The Turner Prize*, Craig Francis Power
Though surrealism and the absurd can take on many bewildering forms, whatever their shape they displays a world like ours—just somehow askew. Some of the rules we take for granted get replaced or removed, with juxtapositions that give reason to pause and consider a new context.
Two takes on surrealism currently adorn the walls of Latitude 53 as I Had This Dream. The first, by the Turner Prize*, is Other People's Dreams, which is just that: the trio's photographic interpretations of other people's REM recollections. Collected during a stint in California doing a "social engagement performance project," the photographs restage the dreams that were described to them, although, talking to the Prize* trio on Skype, Blair Fornwald (alongside John Hampton and Jason Cawood) explains that pinpoint accuracy isn't exactly the goal.
"One of the things we talk about a lot in our writings and in contextualizing our work is the disjuncture between ideas and they representations; what is lost when we attempt to make a narrative out of something that isn't structured as such," she explains. "In retelling a dream, you lose a lot of the details and specificity that make it dreamy and not of this world. And it ends up working for all communication: every time you try to put something into language, there's a bit of a loss, or slippage. And that loss is where we like to inhabit."
The dreams were collected with the aid of a machine called the Mind's Eye Plus—involving noise-cancelling headphones, goggles, and modulated light and sound—created in the 80s by therapists, "For regression therapy," notes Hampton. "For accessing your subconscious. Also by new age hobbyists for [reaching] some clear mental, meditative state." The results the Prize* received span from the simply curious to explicit ("There were probably a small handful of people that were just being provocative," Fornwald points out), all operating within some altered state of logic.
Cawood notes that they aren't quite sure what many of the dreamers thought of the visualizations: once the dream was staged, the Prize* simply mailed the photos back to their respective dreamers.
"Sometimes the turnaround between doing the session and getting the photo can be quite long; like months, or a year perhaps," he says. "And so maybe by the time they get the photo in the mail, they've forgotten about the initial session that they did. It's kind of pleasing to me to think about getting this bewildering photo in the mail. This quite cryptic certificate attached to it. Especially since we didn't tell them what we were going to do with the dream. We left it kind of open ended; We'd do an 'esthetic analysis' of the dream."
Elsewhere in the gallery, sitting across from one another are Craig Francis Powers' works: a looped video of a man's profanity-laced tirade sits across from hooked rugs hangings, some connected by long threads. The element of absurdity emerges comes not just from the juxtaposition of video and hangings, but the artistic disconnect between the hangings' traditional content and what we see here: in one there's a drunken fellow's pissing, beer bottles floating above his head (the thread of pee connecting to another hanging): in another, there's a set of a human butt and legs flying above an unlucky persons' head, all constructed of burlap, fabric and wool.
"The images themselves, as far as the hooked rugs go, are derived from my own observations and operate as an absurdist critique of what I find to be the seriously bankrupt intellectual culture of the artworld," Power explains over email. "This stance is probably due in no small part to my interest in punk and DIY culture. "
Power, whose artist statement notes a "strive for an authentic expression of the idiocy of being alive, while questioning the notion of authenticity itself." recalls that the pairing of video and hanging began with the former, the idea of being pissed off with "Faceless, unresponsive institutions." The absurdity in its mix of "folk art" style and unsual substance, he notes, is its curiosity.
"That's what lies at the heart of what I think is interesting about the work. There's a tension between what appears to be an extremely naive presentation and practice with a somewhat cynical or at least skeptical sense of humour, not to mention a certain disregard for the conventions around making things 'look good.'" vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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