Canapés and cocktail inspired by dreams and ancient cosmologies.
On the night of 2 February 2018, I dreamt:
A party at someone’s house. Suddenly white circles started to appear around the guests' eyes. Sun and moon.
I wasn’t sure what these circles and half-circles meant, but I thought they were some kind of curse or disease that most people now had caught. Maya was there. We identified the man who drew the circles and I did my very best to hide from him. It got quite late and I thought that now he must have left the house! But people were still up dancing, chatting and having a good time... And there he was, still.
––– As soon as I got a glimpse of him, I ran downstairs.
A large living room, dark wood, plants, crowded. And there he was again, wasn’t he? I played hide and seek, entered the room from another direction. What scared me was that I did not know what those circles did to people. I just knew that they did something. Like a poison arrow. Anticipation. These people were marked for life.
The dream, and a series of events and coincidences that occurred in the following weeks, became the starting point for an assemblage of canapés, a cocktail, objects, research material and performance created for Drömsällskapet’s (The Dream Society) group show at Galleri Sverige, Stockholm, an art space housed in an old milk store.
Image credits: Ari Luostarinen, Vilma Luostarinen
The menu and installation together formed a fragmentary, poetic reflection on human’s relationship with celestial bodies, ancient cosmic patterns, mother earth symbolism, and changing weather.
Notes on process
The milk store becomes my starting point. Milk, in some cultures believed to be the food of gods and goddesses, is a symbol of the mother, creation, and life itself. While drinking milk in your dream may suggest spiritual consciousness, the colour white symbolise both death, mourning and renewal.
Somewhere in the strange landscapes of my dreams, I find myself at a party in an old house. People are dancing, laughing, enjoying themselves. This is the kind of party that never ends. I observe the other guests, as in a haze, and suddenly notice white circles and semicircles appearing around their eyes. Like a disease or posion arrow, they’re spreading rapidly among the crowd.
I soon recognise the man who’s drawing the circles onto people’s unbothered, drunken faces. In an attempt to escape, I play hide and seek in the grand rooms of the house. Lush plants and antique furniture become my shelter, heavy doors and dark blue corners protect me, but he appears everywhere. Deep down, I know it’s only a question of time until I’ll look myself in the mirror and see – the sun and the moon.
I don’t have to wait for a starry night,
I don’t have to crane my neck
to get a look at it
I’ve got the sky behind my back, at hand and on
– Wisława Szymborska
In astronomy, white nights are nights that never get really dark. During the Northern summer months, when the Arctic is tipped towards the sun, even the nocturnal hours are bathing in a strange half-light. White nights also mean never ending parties, nights when we never go to sleep. In Italian, on the contrary, saying that one is ‘going to Teatro Bianchini,’ the white theatre, means going to bed.
Never ending nights, never ending snow. Snow, which used to bring light to the darkest times of the year, suddenly leaves me with a feeling of uncanniness. Never before have I experienced snow like this. One side of me views the snowfall with child’s curiosity, but my instincts tell me we are undergoing a crucial shift. A leap into the unknown.
Sunday afternoon at my local library in Stoke Newington. I randomly pick up a book on Egyptian mythology, describing the moon as a sun that shines at night. Every night sky goddess Nut would swallow the sun, just to give birth to it again in the early morning hours. Horus, god of the sky, was sometimes imagined as a celestial falcon, his left eye being the moon and his right eye being the sun. By flapping his wings, he created the winds blowing over Earth.
Tate Modern’s top floor bar. Intrigued by Joan Jonas’ playful but intelligent way of approaching the ecological disasters of our time, and her explorations into women’s place in myths and fairytales, I sit down and watch the snow silently falling over Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s. Every other minute, a random museum visitor squeezes in next to me with their iPhone to capture London in its unusual, white coat.
“The night Leonora died, it was as if the heaven fell down,” I suddenly hear a voice saying. I turn to my left and see an elderly woman. I realise she’s commenting on the book I have in front of me, a collection of short stories by surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. The woman tells me she’s Mexican and explains that she remembers Leonora very well, especially the night when she passed away. “Trees fell down, and there was a terrible storm. Of course the weather might have been a coincidence, but I am not so sure.” There is wisdom in her eyes, and I understand her feeling. Through her art, writing, and cooking, Leonora explored lesser known dimensions of life, such as dreams and alchemy. She was in touch with the universe.
What is the increasingly strange and extreme weather, such as heavy snow storms, telling us? What does the voice of the wind, the changing Arctic jet stream, the wings of the celestial falcon, say? As I explore fragments of old myths, stories and symbols, I can’t help but connecting them with the present moment. The body of the world felt within the human body.
That night, I’m so cold that I can’t fall asleep. My naked skin under a blanket of white snow. I look at the moon outside my bedroom window, only to see the old woman’s eyes in front of me.
The moon in me looks up att the moon
The moon that looks,
Looks back at herself
– Kawai Kanjirō, potter
In his poetry, Japanese potter Kawai Kanjirō writes about an “eye that sees what cannot be seen.” My blind, half-dreaming eye retreats to the simple, eternal shape of the circle. I go on excursions into cosmic patterns, spirals, orbs and spheres. I draw myself a ring, a shell, a home of stillness. The eye of the storm. In ancient times, I imagine we turned our faces to the sun and moon, just as plants do, in search for growth, knowledge and new ideas.
Eating is a ritual way of ingesting the natural world, and making it part of oneself. What is the taste of the cold, snow, winds, creation and destruction? I’m afraid I don’t have an answer, but my intention is to craft simple, edible objects that still our hunger for poetry and imagination. If you are more thirsty than hungry, have a cup of white milk, drink from the sun and moon, our faceless mothers.