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Explore the World of Dream Visions in a Mystical Installation

Artists Swoon and Monica Canilao team up for a complex installation that asks viewers to consider their own dreams and intuitions.
March 9, 2016, 7:25pm
Photo by Tod Seelie. Courtesy of Chandran Gallery

Dive head first into the world of dreams and intuition in a collaborative show called Witch-Wife, currently on display at Chandran Gallery. Brooklyn-based artist Swoon and Oakland-based Monica Caniloa transform the gallery into a dreamscape. A central sculpture features dreams collected through Swoon’s Dream Reliquary, where strangers can submit their dreams. This makes for an art show that not only visually stimulates the viewer but also asks that they tap into their subconscious to remember their own dreams and visions.


Canilao uses a range of materials, from personal objects to found materials. Her large-scale, mixed-media pieces include knives, fur, and bones. Swoon creates her signature paper pieces but also incorporates acrylic paint, found objects, coffee stains and more. For Witch-Wife, she also experimented with creating 3D forms in the round.


Photo by Tod Seelie. Courtesy of Chandran Gallery

“Always with an installation I'm trying to create an environment that takes people out of their daily experience far enough that it opens them up to new kinds of feelings and sensations,” Swoon tells The Creators Project. She hopes that viewers will take in the entire installation with an open mind—that her work with Canilao can create a “contemplative space within which we can see things afresh.” This means thinking about themes and concepts that visitors might ignore on a daily basis.

Swoon admits that she often dreams about things that end up happening in the future—“just small details, and yet it’s always a little spooky"—and decided to research more about the occurrence. She found it happens commonly; but with a culture full of witch hunts, civilization rejected any intuition of clairvoyance we might naturally have possessed. This concept influenced the title and theme of the work in many ways.


Photo by Tod Seelie. Courtesy of Chandran Gallery

“So it felt like as we worked together, very much in the conjurers’ spirit, and very much fueled by deep irrational intuitions, that we could use a title that was a throw back, one which drew a line between modern creativity, and some older ways of knowing,” writes Swoon.


Canilao echoes that statement, describing the show as one that addresses “intuition and the mystical consciousness that fuels dreams and creativity.”


Photo by Tod Seelie. Courtesy of Chandran Gallery

No random collaboration, the show displays the work of two artists who know each other well. Their aesthetic styles come together in complex ways, adding layers to each piece that the viewer must unravel.

“Over the last 11 years of knowing with each other Swoon and I have collaborated on many different kinds of projects, and every time it comes out very differently,” writes Canilao. “The type of media we use changes and evolves. In the case of this show neither of us had constructed hanging sculptures…. The whole thing was based on a very loose idea and things came together through experimenting while in the space.”

Through this process, the artists transform the standard gallery space into an environment for reflection. “I rarely enter a white walled gallery situation with a feeling that that space has been consumed by the artist, I hope the way I choose to take up space when I work makes visitors have a different type of gallery experience,” writes Canilao.


Photo by Tod Seelie. Courtesy of Chandran Gallery

Witch-Wife will be on display at Chandran Gallery until April 1. To learn more, click here.


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