Gosse said, "You have no conception of reality. This is no dream; this is real!"
Selver said with vehemence equal to Gosse's, "I know what a realist is, Mr Gosse. Lyubov and I have talked about these words. A realist is a man who knows both the world and his own dreams. You're not sane: there's not one man in a thousand of you who knows how to dream. Not even Lyubov, who was the best of you all. You sleep, you wake and forget your dreams, you sleep again and wake again, and so you spend your whole lives and think that is being, life, reality!"
—The Word for World Is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Let's talk about dreams! We can lie on our mattresses and browse other people's dreams under dream-related scene; here, we learn about a cocktail based on the dreamer's dream, print and take away stickers, and post them anywhere; or we can have our own dreams—Doreen Chan's participatory project HalfDream creates such a space. Regardless of the participant's identity, age, class or race, the core of the five-phase project, which began in 2020, matches each dreamer with their The One .
HalfDream creates a realm where dreams and reality overlap. The discussion of dreams and reality has a long history. Artists worship John Lennon's words, "A dream you dream alone may be a dream, but a dream two people dream together is a reality." American writer Ursula K. Le Guin proposed a similar concept, and in her novel, she also discussed a kind of person: the dreamers, and among the dreamers, there is "Sha'ab". "Sha'ab" is God, and it means "translator".
Selver, who was quoted at the beginning of this article, is Sha'ab. Sha'ab not only translates the languages of dreams and philosophy into everyday communication, but also core visual experiences into waking life: a person who acts as a link between two realities—these two realities are regarded as equals by the locals: one is the “time of the dream”, and the other is the “time of the world”.
The discussion of "time of the dream" and "time of the world" is about the dream and so-called "reality" (or can be understood as waking life) that we discuss on Earth. The connection between the two realms, though crucial, is murky. The translator acts as a liaison, someone who can express subconscious perceptions aloud. I think HalfDream also serves as a translator since it breaks down the barriers of language and medium. Whether the participants resort to text, image, video, or sound, they are speaking, and the goal of this project is to speak. The word "speak" is about acting, and doing something new.
In the novel, Sha'ab introduces a new word into the language of his people. He completed a new action. Today, we are here, bridging different cultures, sincerely believing in each other's dreams, and willing to spend time and energy on dreams together. This project is about trust, and its core is far removed from materiality. It affirms the values of everyone. In my humble opinion, dreaming or participating in HalfDream as a dreamer is a cost-effective way to spend time. After all, “life on Earth is quite a bargain. Dreams, for one, don’t charge admission. Illusions are costly only when lost. The body has its own installment plan.” (from Here by Wisława Szymborska)Sun Wenjie
ARTIST: Doreen Chan
Doreen Wing Yan Chan was born in 1987 in Hong Kong, China. She was trained in visual communication and photography before receiving her MA in Art Education from School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2021. Based on a lens-based and site-specific approach, Chan’s artistic practice investigates personal perception, materiality, and daily details that are often overlooked. She is particularly interested in blending her deep desire of connecting people with the progressive development of her artistic practice. In her current participatory art project, HalfDream, she focuses on re-examining the tensions between interpersonal relationships, personal memories and immediate environments.
Chan has had solo exhibitions at Lianzhou Foto Festival 2013 (Lianzhou), Kigoja: Independent Arts Space Initiative (Seoul), Charbon art space (Hong Kong, China) and HB Station: Contemporary Art Research Centre (Guangzhou). She has also exhibited her works in Beijing, Gwangju, Macau, Hong Kong, New York and several cities in the UK. Chan was listed as a finalist in the Three Shadows Photography Award in 2015, the Art Sanya Huayu Youth Award in 2019, and the 4th VH Award. She was named Cultured Magazine Young Artists in 2021 and received the Pritzker Fellowship. Chan currently lives in Chicago and Hong Kong, China.
CURATOR: Sun Wenjie
Born in 1989 in Dalian, lives and works in Beijing. She is a curator and writer. Sun studied at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), and later at the Goldsmiths College, University of London, where she received her MFA in Curating. Sun joined the Red Brick Art Museum in 2016 and has held the position of Head of Exhibitions at the Museum since 2017. The exhibitions she curated solely and jointly include: The Long Way Around, ShanghART, Beijing (2021-2022); Call and Response: Judy Chicago x Stanley Whitney, Longlati Foundation, Shanghai (2020); Escape Routes - Bangkok Art Biennale, Bangkok, Thailand (2020); Chen Zihao: 2.5 D, Tang Contemporary Art, Bangkok, Thailand (2019); Andres Serrano: An American Perspective, Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2017); Wen Pulin Archive of Chinese Avant-garde Art of the 80s and 90s, Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2016); Re-coding, CAFA International, Beijing (2016); An Exhibition on Exhibiting, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing (2011), etc.
Doreen Chan, HalfDream, 2021. Poster. Courtesy of the artist.
Doreen Chan, HalfDream, 2021. Website. Courtesy of the artist.
Doreen Chan, Still image of A Cocktail Based on a Dreamer's Dream I, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.
Doreen Chan, A Cocktail Based on a Dreamer's Dream I, 2022. Photography. Courtesy of the artist.
Doreen Chan, A Cocktail Based on a Dreamer's Dream I Recipe, 2022. Photography. Courtesy of the artist.
Doreen Chan, A Cocktail Based on a Dreamer's Dream II, 2022. Photography. Courtesy of the artist.
Doreen Chan, A Cocktail Based on a Dreamer's Dream II Recipe, 2022. Photography. Courtesy of the artist.
Doreen Chan, HalfDream's Sharing Dream Sticker, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.