I heard that dreamwork is a form of resistance.
I knew long before I’d heard this that dreams were not mine to hold.
They are traces, hints, remnants of desires to be populated in waking.
I remember one;
that one was more a wish
for something than the thing itself;
A wish is a thing itself.
A ‘maybe’ more spacious than a ‘certainly this’.
Between the eye and the eyelid all is present. The formlessness is shaped by the body. A relaxing of the jaw. A smile. A closing tighter of the eyes. A turning of the head towards the light. A joy that starts at the heart, warms the cheeks, and tingles at the fingertips. The small movements of the body transform the not-quite images of a blind mind’s eye. When the project is to dream beyond a world that says only that which you see is real, the not seeing itself overcomes certain limitations of acculturation. These dreams-not-dreams are not ocular-centric. This is not vivid like a film. Not this happened, then that. It is a plotting, never a line. The dream-not-dream is a constant rerouting of the spaces between this point and that. Always distant but intimate none-the-less.
It is a tuning for resonances.
Taking what one needs
before one knows they need it.
The dream-not-dream says, ‘I think in that thing I’m willing myself to see, in the pink-purple nothing far in the distance, is the trace of a touch I’ve known before.’ And so it begins. The shaping of nothings.
I’d like to share one with you. This shaping was held in ritual with others.
It started with drumming
but there was nothing behind the eyelids.
And, pink nothing;
A nothing that mirrored the sound of the drums.
And a voice, or a thought; distant, faint, inaudible,
a reminder that it matters from which organ one listens.
That there are more than 5 senses
And the tears came,
and kept coming,
and kept coming.
And the touch.
The small hand of a younger self,
We have all the time we need
and I’ll hold you as long as we need to be held.
In the holding came the play.
A skipping rope,
a handmade Ludo board.
Dress-up and great parties.
The big pink party dress
with white frilly socks
and patent white shoes
for the little one.
A rabbit shaped cake.
Something furry and flared,
in washed indigo and camel
with fil-coupé for large.
patterned like a leopard
and a black, bushy-tailed
jumping between spots.
I’ve decided that this must come from the Twidan, and my guides must be those leopards of my maternal line. They’ve allowed themselves to be domesticated momentarily, how generous, to account for limits of imagination or my unseeing; but they are holding all that is to be held. It’s me, and little one, and the leopard’s spots, and the house cat.
The drumming stops.
My eyes open,
the shaping continues.
There is enough here, inside nothing. We have all the time we need and I’ll hold you as long as we need to be held. You can take what you need before you know you need it. It matters which organ you listen with, what resonance you attune to. Then, decide.
Adjoa Armah is an artist based between London and Cape Coast. In 2015 she founded Saman Archive. Named Saman after the Akan word for ghost, also used to describe the photographic negatives the archive contains, the ghost is a central conceptual figure in her practice. Her research interests are broadly in technology, as efficacious action on subjects and objects, and Black ontologies.