“To dream a man” curated by Samantha Ozer at Clima, Milan
Participating artists: Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Farah Al Qasimi, Dalton Gata, Brook Hsu, Elizabeth Jaeger, and Fin Simonetti. Curated by Samantha Ozer.
“To dream a man” brings together a group of artists whose works consider dreams and myths as tools to understand ourselves and our relationships with other beings, both human and non-human. The exhibition borrows its title from Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Circular Ruins,” in which a “wizard” retreats into a temple to “dream a man” into existence, only to realize that he is also a product of someone else’s dream. Like the “wizard” who is visited by the god of Fire in many bestial forms, the artists in this exhibition look to animals and mystical spirits to bridge the gap between interiority and exteriority, explore myth-making for survival and consider how perspective dictates narrative. From the quotidian to the supernatural, the stories crafted through these mythical beings flirt with the bounds of fear and desire and present a projection of reality that is fluid depending on the environment or cultural conditions.
The intersection between imagination and sensorium influences lived experience. Elizabeth Jaeger’s birds surveil visi- tors, meeting us with expressions of sadness, curiosity, and even judgement, seemingly considering our habits as much as we envision theirs. For Dalton Gata, however, we are met with an unrequited gaze, rejected by person and animal alike, only instigating more questions about this surreal pairing. Rituals of consumption and sight are explored in Brook Hsu’s Cell Death 8, in which mushrooms and packs of what the artist calls bunny-dogs multiply inside of undulating pears. While these objects are suspended in space, her landscape paintings feature lush environments animated by a haunting absence. There is a feeling that something has recently departed or a premonition that it is yet to arrive.
In Tunji Adeniyi-Jones’ drawings, the chorus of androgynous figures move and whisper amongst themselves, recrea- ting tribal performance and connecting to a rich history of the Yoruba diaspora and wider mythologies of West African Kingdoms. More broadly, Farah Al Qasimi’s work explores issues of hybridity in creating cultural identity. Much like the multicultural production of the items in the furniture shop in Shahama, Abu Dhabi, legends surrounding black cats shift from misfortune to prosperity and luck depending on the cultural context. While individually, Fin Simonetti’s drawings suggest uncanny encounters with pastoral living; taken collectively, the works consider internalized guilt of how we treat other species, in this instance the cow, which is revered in some cultures and exploited in others. For Simonetti’s work specifically, but to be considered across all the works is a consideration of if the interior of one’s mind is safe from the judgement of a moralizing gaze, particularly one that is our own? If reality is constructed from our perceptions, then the conditions of the physical world are always in flux and dependent upon a patchwork of collective visions.