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I dreamed last night that I was an artist, and that my latest work was being shown.

I dreamed that I had impregnated myself, and that, after six months of rest and tender silence, I’d carefully aborted the fetus. I dreamt that this translucent figure, so perfect in its unblemished stillness, was being displayed in the center of a vast gallery, suspended forever in a clear glass spotlit sphere. I dreamt that the piece was titled either ‘the problem,’ or ‘the prophecy,’ or, perhaps, both.

I dreamed that in my dream no one understood–and there were so many no ones!– why I had done such a thing. I dreamt that I did not know either; I knew only that I’d known I’d felt I had no choice but to make this terrible sacrifice. I dreamt, in my dream, I was an artist mute with sorrow and rage.

When I woke up I wondered whether anyone had in fact, and not in dream, done such a thing, in part because as an act of sovereignty it seemed necessary that the artist be a woman, and it part because of how visceral and painful and endlessly provocative the thought. Outside a related controversial project by a recent Yale art student, I could find nothing, and now I am a little scared to post this.

Of course to bear a child is to condemn it to death; of course many artists sacrifice children to their work; of course the philosophical question around whether art can ever be worth a human life is not a new one; of course this was only a dream. Still, I have been so angry recently, and so very preoccupied with women and with power and with dying. Still, there is the ambiguity of an aborted sacrifice. Still, and after all, this is a dream.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Somehow I imagined you as immune to anger. I’m relieved to learn that I was wrong, though I’m sorry to hear you’ve been upset.

    Sacrifice is a pretty frightening concept all around, I think, but it’s also inescapable. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    April 22, 2010
  2. . . . what struck me about this dream is that if you’d carried the fetus to term, it would have been *your* child, to raise and care for, but also to enjoy and be intimate with. when you aborted the child, it went into a museum, for others to marvel at, be inspired by . . . also the two angles of perspective – of “the problem” and the “prophecy” – don’t you think that somehow seems like a really important message?

    . . . and the whole tie in with art – you knew you were an artist . . . could the aborted fetus be an artistic project that you show the world that most artists would hide or keep to themselves? . . . but you cut it out of you and put it on display . . .

    April 22, 2010
  3. Helen #

    Somehow this dream makes sense to me.

    I catch a glimmer of the underlying pain and anger and grief of recent events and I can relate in a very small way.

    Please be gentle and non-judgmental with yourself as you support your own recovery dear Siona. You are loved and appreciated beyond words.

    April 22, 2010
  4. Dave: Somehow I thought the same, and oh it is a relief, and a wonderful one, to discover this current of intensity. I had no idea.

    kate: All of it does, and the whole dream was so fraught with paradox: that the problem and the prophecy were the same; that there was ambiguity in the name (ie. was that aborted display a prophecy and a foretelling of what was to come, or was it what had been prophesied?); the creation of a work in the abortion of the work; and so on.

    I am not sure. And thank you, thank you, for the gift of the other day.

    April 23, 2010
  5. It’s a powerful dream, and that explains why I’ve read your post twenty times without being able to respond. (I had to wait to cool :-)

    It strikes me as a raw and unflinching way to describe what each of us feels when we share our creativity. We “put ourselves out there” and most others don’t understand it as we do.

    To me, the dream was less about the child, and more about symbolism.

    Only recall that creativity is not FOR them, it’s for you. And whatever inspired you to create is good, and it is right. Even if no one else understands.

    April 25, 2010
  6. DiamondLil #

    What a powerful dream and a powerful telling of it both! It is a raw statement about making art but also about being “an artist” within a society. Obviously too there are other things going on in your life about which I know nothing, but I am in awe of being able to express such anger and to say things that others might find “inappropriate” or “odd” or whatever — that is power!

    April 26, 2010

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