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Gallery of Artifacts from Vivid COVID Dreams

As part of its 2020-2021 programming, the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture opens a virtual space on the theme of interiors, interiority, and confinement, the role they play in collective life and/or how they may be contested. The exhibit seeks to explore the shifting boundaries of intimacy and domesticity in a dynamic virtual space, presenting mutli-disciplinary content and critical engagement.

Curatorial Team: Alexandra Fraser, Marcie Bronson, Derek Knight, Catherine Parayre, Nicholas Hauck

Editor: Catherine Parayre

Technical Assistant: Colin Bruce Anthes

Publication contribution upcoming in Nov./Dec.:

Gallery of Artifacts from Vivid COVID Dreams

Compiler: Candace Couse

Artists: Isabella Dagnino, DeeDee Day (Denise Fowle), Caroline Holroyd, Sarah Martin, Luke Pardy, Kira Pretty, Amber Lee Williams

Gallery of Artifacts from Vivid COVID Dreams is a collaborative, cross-community project involving students and alumni from Brock University in Ontario, and The University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. This project asked participants to respond to the recently identified phenomenon of vivid COVID dreams, related to sheltering at home during the global pandemic, and the accompanying unrelenting psychological stressors of COVID 19 (Bottary 2020). A lack of activity, and increased anxiety, combined with irregular sleeping patterns, can cause dreamers to improve dream recall, leading to mass reports of strange, vivid and memorable dreams in the time of COVID. It is hypothesized that a withdrawal from everyday environments and fresh stimuli creates a scarcity of new material for our unconscious to draw upon as it works to process heightened angst. This absence is said to result in vivid mashups between the unfamiliar “new” anxieties and themes from our past, which become the clothing we do have access to as we dress up the “new” anxiety through old fears, to establish recognition.

Through the project, participants were invited to create self-portraits in their beds, holding a single object representing an element of a vivid COVID dream. In this way, Gallery of Artifacts from Vivid COVID Dreams is at once a document of the strange, vivid COVID dream phenomenon, a reimagining of an ephemeral moment, a second level, doubled act of interpreting the intrusive feelings we are all processing, and, lastly, a mirroring of diverse, but strongly familiar states occurring over different geographical locations simultaneously.

Bottary, Ryan et al. “Sleep Extension: An Explanation for Increased Pandemic Dream Recall?” Sleep (New York, N.Y.) (2020): n. pag. Web.


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