Unidentified African Artists
Finding your center, standing still, take a deep breath in. Pay close attention to your breath as you pull it in through your nose and push it out through your mouth. Breath slowly, deeply, naturally. Once you’ve found your breath rhythm, we’ll begin your journey. Go at whatever pace feels comfortable, and take breaks whenever you feel is necessary. As you begin to walk counter clockwise through the space, pay attention to your steps, left and right, and check in with your breath. Feel how your body moves, the shifting of your weight, enjoy the motion. You feel strong, energetic, but not rushed. When you’re ready, turn your attention to your surroundings, the idols on your left and right guiding you deeper into this dream world, allow yourself to be submerged in the environment, the sculptures and wall works create the world you’re entering. Pay attention to the characters you begin to encounter, they’re sharing a meal and look up at you as you pass by them, meeting your gaze. You don’t need to feel afraid of them, they are friendly, they are your family although at first glance you didn’t recognize them. For now you must decline their offer for food and wine, and they understand, you both know that they will always be there for you, offering care and nurturance. As you continue your journey, you are accompanied by the now familiar figures, they are your guides. Notice the shininess on the nose of that one over there, it’s been touched and loved, you can see that each one contains a long history of friendship and familiarity. Let that feeling of history and comfort soak into your body. Bring your attention back to your breath, the rhythmic in and out of the air. You do not feel uneasy, you feel calm and taken care of. Now, watch the figure, it will let you know when it’s time to keep moving. When you get the signal, continue around the room, direct your attention towards the deconstructed domestic items around the space. The gutted mattress and the folded bathtubs. Let your observation of their strangeness lead you to the feeling of how familiar these objects are in your life, how your routines around them have become thoughtless and automatic, think of how you touch and use these objects in your daily life. Think of who you share those experiences with. Do you brush your teeth beside someone? Do you share your bed? Do you share your dreams?
Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic approach views the dream world as the ‘Royal Road to the Unconscious’. Freud believed that dream analysis was the access point to sublimated and repressed memories, to trauma, it was the key to unlocking a patients mind and also figured heavily in their treatment. Memory itself is imperfect – a mixture of fantasy and reality, and dreaming steps away further, manifesting those fantasies in the creation of a visual world. Dreams are simultaneously the revealing and uncovering of the unconscious, and the shrouding of it in visual signs and cues. Trauma is re-presented, re-expressed, re-incarnated in objects and environments.
The Road to the Unconscious presents works by Bronwyn Katz, Donna Huanca, Su Chang, Beth Letain and Brent Wadden alongside pieces by unknown African artists hailing from the Fang (Gabon), Mumuye (Nigeria), Senufo (Ivory Coast or Mali), and Luba (Democratic Republic of Congo) people.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)