Consider the power of processes taking place behind closed eyelids. They could bear potential for new structures, create space for resistance or even collective acts of rebellion. In our sleep-deprived society sleeping almost counts as a revolutionary act. Sleep is a radical interruption in our continuous production and consumption, and something that suspends our constant online presence. However, closing the eyelids means more than a simple withdrawal from the zone of reality, or an intentional or unintentional blindness: it can give ground to new demands and forces. Instead of an unconscious, inactive or useless state, in the realm of dreams we can actually be in control, and have the freedom to make decisions and take action. The exhibition seeks to explore the power of this other reality and the potential of the layers beneath the surface of wakefulness as a different locality and temporality.
While reality and its simulation often prove inseparable in our life, it is important to take a closer look at the relationship between internal and external reality, and at our real possibilities to have control in these zones. How do we account for the slippages between the personal and the political, individual and collective responsibility, or the conscious and unconscious. Roman Štětina’s sound installation explores the boundaries of instinctive and consciously controlled sound, and the delicate and intimate differences between breath and voice. The sounds are formulations of an inner process that endeavours to deconstruct the control over voice.
A Dream on Lucids by the artist duo Randomroutines looks at the possibility to extend our control into dreams. During the course of lucid dreaming the sleeper is not only aware of the fact that he or she is asleep, but also capable of making conscious decisions in specific situations within the dream. These situations, as opposed to being awake, are not influenced by external circumstances, former traumas or fears; thus, during a lucid dream one is inescapably self-identical. The audio play accompanied by projections represents dreaming as a collective, shared experience. While surrounded by an air of implicit illegality, here in the realm of dreams our time and actions are considered more valuable, more thoughtful and taking higher stakes than while awake.
Zbyněk Baladrán and Barbora Kleinhamplová’s vertiginous video The Labour of the Eyerevolves around a confused corporate company worker who is incapable of breaking free from the clutches of work hours, occupational positions and office walls. Not even closing his eyes offers relief, as this brings about visions and delusions further aggravating his fears and hopelessness related to office work, rendering him incapable of exiting – even for a moment – this lonely world collapsing in on itself.
Barbora Kleinhamplová and Tereza Stejskalová’s video titled the Sleepers' Manifesto is a protest against the attack of late-capitalist society on our sleep; the attack that infringes on our free time and demands a constant engagement and presence. The protesters dream of a world where sleeping is not a despised, suspicious, subversive act, but instead considered more valuable than being awake. Although their demands sometimes seem resigned and hopeless, there is some power linked to them. A power similar to what is manifested in André Breton’s book Communicating Vessels from 1932, in which he attributes such potentials to unconscious zones, with special regard to dreaming. According to Breton, linking the desires and will of dreaming people could have the power to change reality. 'How I should like for all men to meditate profoundly on the eternal unconscious powers you conceal, so that they might not retreat or submit. Resignation is not written upon the moving stone of sleep. The immense dark cloth daily woven bears in its centre the transfixing eyes of a clear victory.'(2)
(1) André Breton: Communicating Vessels. (Trans. Mary Ann Caws and Geoffrey T. Harris) University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln & London, 1990, p. 86.
(2) André Breton: Communicating Vessels. (Trans. Mary Ann Caws and Geoffrey T. Harris) University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln & London, 1990, p. 145.