“Cool blue morning by the creek, soft remote flute calls, sad and sweet from a dying star. Phosphorescent stumps glow in the blue twilight that hangs over the streets at noon like a haze.”
— William S. Burroughs, Cities of the Red Night
The afterbirth, the primordial ooze. It starts with a dream. A virus. A fever.
The exhibition Afterbirth of a Dream is the result of a curatorial collaboration between Jan Zálešák and Christina Gigliotti; a stand-alone sequel to two projects curated by Jan Zálešák; Apocalypse Me (2016) and Letting Go (2017). The common leitmotif of the informal trilogy remains focused on the frontier regions of the human world – areas where borders between realms of the human and inhuman are dissolved. The artworks presented within the exhibition move away from the sphere of ”normality“, from the supreme domain of a modern, rational subject. Todays’ subjectivity is shaped by a delirical experience with the constantly rearranged and transforming content of the Net, floating as a ghostly representation over the not well-kept facade of ”reality,“ beyond which nothing is at it seems, and lasts only for a moment. Under the surface of human bodies there is a symbiotic multispecies universe, beneath the displays of smart devices – machinic assemblages of human and inhuman, below the surface of consciousness there are nebula of dreams and affections, ready to explode at any time and then absorb everything like a black hole.
The literary black hole that is Cities of the Red Night by William S. Burroughs can be used as a guide to help us navigate and attempt to access a version of reality in which the hegemonic barriers between species has been eradicated. Thus, not only does human consciousness not rule over all other forms, but also, conscious beings are not bound by their physical bodies. In the book’s reality, human, animal, alien and machine each squarely battle for their place in the cosmos. Through this chaos, the main protagonist inhabits numerous bodies on different planets through-out his time-traveling journey. Thus, the reader is thrown into the minds of organisms experiencing various levels of consciousness. Scenes are often set during or after dreams have taken place. The main character’s feverish hallucinations, orgasmic convulsions, drug-induced blackouts, and dream-like imageries allow for a complete immersion of belief or open-mindedness to new possibilities of existence. What seems logically impossible in waking life ultimately becomes accepted through these altered states. The exhibition Afterbirth of a Dream’s hazy, oozy reality thus endeavours to conjure up this state – the short moment between full wakefulness and slumber – in order to explore what a more tentacular and fluid, shape-shifting reality might look like. Always moving or slipping across realities, certain recognizable figures throughout the exhibition come to the foreground, if only to disappear again.
Text: Christina Gigliotti and Jan Zalešák