Shaking the Dreamland Tree July 13-August 26, 2018
Curated by Jicky Schnee
Sleep baby sleep
Thy Father guards the sheep
Thy Mother shakes the Dreamland Tree
And fall from it sweet dreams for thee
Sleep baby sleep
From A History of Nursery Rhymes, Percy B. Green, 1899
When my two year-old daughter goes to bed, she almost always asks me to sing the above nursery rhyme to her; I believe she requests this particular lullaby because even at her young age she is both aware of and uncertain about the strange and sometimes terrifying world of dreams, where nothing you know seems reliable and things can change in a breath.
What are dreams and what, if any, is their function? Are they memories? Random brain activation? Problem solving? Wishful thinking?
The earliest recorded dreams were acquired from materials dating back approximately 5000 years, in Mesopotamia, where they were documented on clay tablets. In the Greek and Roman periods, people believed that dreams were direct messages from deities or deceased persons, and that they predicted the future. And some early cultures even practiced dream incubation with the intention of cultivating dreams that are prophetic. Opinions on the meaning of dreams have varied and shifted through time and culture. Today many endorse the Freudian theory of dreams – that dreams reveal insight into hidden desires and emotions and areseen as projections of parts of the self that have been ignored, rejected, or suppressed.
When the map of the world was first being drawn and cartography was in its nascent stages, the edge of the map into the unknown was marked with a line that simply said, ‘Beyond This Place There Be Dragons’. My belief is that dreams are a sort of ‘beyond this place there be dragons’ of the self and that to become a whole person, a journey through this forbidding land is necessary.
Shaking the Dreamland Tree is an examination of what is revealed when one shakes the mind to see what falls from the tree of dreams.