To begin with, I am sorry to all of the people I need to be sorry to right now. You know who you are.
I can’t fling last night’s dreaming into the Sleep Dustbin of the all the funny things your brain can do.
The non-linear nature of memory has reminded of me that I have only ever experienced dreams similar to last night’s a few times in my life. Last night felt like the past speaking to me directly, through memory in dream-scape.
Others have spoken to me of the uncanny dreams they’ve had when they’re lives have hit the rocks. I’m not sure I’m quite at the rocks yet, but I know there’s a truth to what they are saying.
It could be a self defense mechanism? When a crisis hits, the brain creates chemical formulas that we experience as spiritual moments? Maybe.
In last night’s dream state I went into my grandparents’ house, to check, or look over something for the family. Neither the fact that we haven’t had hold over this house since my grandad passed away 6 years ago, nor the fact that the dog, which died in 2003 before both of my grandparents, was present stuck our as being abnormal within a dream-scape.
The shock came when I went into the main room to find my Grandma stood there – a woman who, basically died when Alzheimer’s ate her up in 2003, but factually survived until summer 2007, was stood there as she would have been in the 1990’s and 80’s.
Prior to this the dream felt like a dream. This part didn’t, it felt like a presence.
The second equally weird moment came when, from shock, I ran out of the house, towards a shop that is still standing, across the road. I ran in to tell my mother.
But the shop was the shop as it was before 1999, and I wasn’t speaking to my mother in the way I would now. Nor was she the person who I interact with now, in a manner (unfortunately) massively mediated by my functional depression, and the shame and humiliation over my unfulfilled adult life; she was the woman I used to see as a mum rather than a reminder of my failure as an adult human being. It felt like another direct encounter with another time; it was un-dream-like.
Like all the mornings of this week, I haven’t been leaving my bedroom until noon. Unlike my ‘normal state’ of trying to critique our society’s nostalgiaism, I have been injecting pure nostalgia straight into my veins – it felt like the only option.
This morning I found myself listening to a song by long-haul Scottish indie-pop band Teenage Fanclub. I get like this when it feels like I can’t hold the depressive functioning together anymore, I get sucked in by anything that seems to speak of a life I had when I loved life, and didn’t function in it by a general deadness to time and space.
I first heard ‘Baby Lee’ on 6 Music some months back. I thought Teenage Fanclub had decided to cover a 1960’s pop classic.
Or maybe even a 1950’s pop classic? This is because as I walked along an unforgiving traffic-choked road earlier on, it sparked a thought in my head: maybe the mid to late twentieth century had more in common with the late Victorian (and even earlier?) than it does now. I exhaled, looked down so the white van drivers couldn’t see my slapped-face and thought of how horrific and disturbing our present social body is.
‘Baby Lee’ is pure nostaglia, but it isn’t the ‘zombie super-cut’ (Mere Pseud) of most current music, especially since The Strokes. Britain (and the world is too big of a project when it comes to Pain) is a dead dog, where all the flees (as in us) are fighting each other for ever-diminishing salvation from the life-stripping machine, and ‘Baby Lee’ evokes (even if nostalgically) a time where compassion and empathy were ‘natural’.#
This harking back to a post-war moment is nothing short of something that is bringing tears to my eyes. I admit I’m in a poor state as I write, and thus maybe I shouldn’t be blogging, but here I am. I never experienced the post-war period, and I am aware it wasn’t great either, but I certainly experienced it in dying gestures (seriously even the streets of the 90’s are a huge jump from now) , and experience that what gained from its loss as an awful feeling of lack that never ebbs, and forces its sad subjects into zombieist nostalgia due to lack of another option.
I wanted to go talk about one of the other few dreams that were similar to last night’s… I must have been 7 going on 8. It was around a time when our Junior School was going to Wigan Pier. The dream I had was in retrospect mixed up with my dad playing a song by the Rolling Stones about meeting a factory girl affter her shift (?).
All I can remember is that in this dream I fell in love with a mill girl.
And for months after (in fact it probably never really disappeared) I had a feeling that I can only think is the one I’ve never experienced in the my REAL adult life: heartbreak (I guess I was just about becoming a sexualised being at 8).
It was another when something occurred that WAS REAL, because I can remember fantasising about being able to travel back in time to meet her. I can also remember makign an utter fool of myself trying to explain the ‘experience’ to a fellow class friend after class registration (it must have been late 1991 or early 1992).
These dreams were not experienced as dreams, they were experienced as presences. But the disclaimer to this blog is that I am not particularly well at the moment, but with lack of connection with people elsewhere, I felt I wanted to post this – even if it I come through this shit and it all seems like nonsense. BTW, I’m not looking for comments. thanks for your consideration
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/225750903″>Milly-Molly-Mandy gets Loaded and Other Stories</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user68633656″>Rebekah Whitlam</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Video work by Rebekah Whitlam based on her installation for Will the last person to leave the 20th century please turn off the lights? an exhibition staged by our collective The Retro Bar at the End of the Universe
Thanks to Adam Weikert for the soundtrack (and TLC).
A mixed media installation exploring a nations 21st century come down from 20th century neoliberal hedonism. A new generation of adults become petrified in 90s juvenility. Numbers in anxiety, depression, ADHD, and liver disease have doubled over the past 30 years. We’re broke, confused, and desperately scrambling for the exit.
A big thanks to JD Taylor for taking part in this. I will be uploading the full mix of the talks onto Soundcloud within the next day
“A tale of two countries” is the title of an audio essay I’ve put together for an exhibition opening today Up North in an abandoned boozer. It’s a rough attempt to try to put across some feelings and ideas about the political and social mood at the moment.
The exhibition, “Will the last person to leave the 20th century please turn out the lights?”, is a journey into the West Yorkshire eerie, bringing together drawings, installations and audio. If you happen to be bowling by Baildon, between Bradford and Otley, it opens today. More info here.
If not, have a listen here.
Thanks goes to John Ledger for inviting me to produce something and for bringing it together.
First and foremost for anybody who has never heard of Baildon (mainly people south of Wakefield), just think ‘2 miles north of the World Heritage Site, Saltaire.
I’m really looking forward to this event. To be honest it’s our first proper outing as a collective. The Artists’ Bookfair at The Tetley Gallery in Leeds earlier this year was sort of leading up to this. In light of the series of events that have unfolded in the past month (for better and worse) the title of the event, ‘will the last person to leave the 20 century please turn out the light?’, really does seem loaded. No longer does it merely seem to be a ironic nod towards the serious structural inertia that has dominated culture and political thought for what feels like an eternity, but it now seem to on the point of potentially being seriously responded to. Indeed, the post The End of The Long 90’s on the blog Flip Chart Fairy Tales, really puts into focus the unavoidable proposition that recent events will change British politics for good – that maybe the “Summer of ’17 really will be the end of the Long 90s”. I’m excited to say Rick from Flip Chart Fairy Tales has allowed us to use the blog in an introductory installation to the exhibition part of the event.
We have to be cautious, and what is still clear is that the apparatus that foster cultural inertia and negative realism are still in the driving seat, even if it’s now clear the vehicle has no idea how to navigate the new roads. However, with trepeditity, and paraphrasing the words of Juliet Jacques’ recent post for Repeater Books, ‘For the first time in [adult] my life, I don’t feel like [I’m stalked by depression]’. It may be a flash in pan, a hysteria brought about by the heatwave and the flurry of events discrediting Neoliberal agenda’s freezing of social life into billboard graphic impressions of public space. But I’m feeling more than ever that this negative realism can be fought against, both in my art and life.
Comewhatmay, we have a series of artists, writers and academics parttaking on some level in this exhibition. I’m sure the outcome will be a fruitful one!
As well as the collective (which currently revolves around myself, artist Rebekah Whitlam, Artist-Curator John Wright, and composer Benjamin Parker, – ghosted by DS Jarvis), we have invited contributions from DS Jarvis, photographer Steve Schofield, writers Merepseud and JD Taylor, the poet Jonathan Butcher, the blog Flip Chart Fair Tales, and potentially the engineer David Hooppell. All in all it is looking like