Dreamweaving: Liv Kristin Holmberg and Marianne Strangers' the Defense of the Dream

Updated: Oct 11, 2018

By Siri Valdez.

It made me think about the Silkworm. The performance piece that was held in a partly translucent container, reminiscent of a cocoon, that artist Liv Kristin Holmberg and artist and scenographer Marianne Stranger (in collaboration with a "dream team" of contributors[1]), put up in Fredrikstad - as a part of the all night culture event "Kulturnatt", on Friday the 14th of September.

Photo by Trine Sirnes "The Defence of the Dream"

It was drizzling rain when I got to Fredrikstad that night, and the park next to the Library where the cocoon was placed was wet with newly created mist. The cocoon, a sort of horizontal vertebrae shaped container that could fit just about two people, immediately caught my eye; almost hermetically concealed and secretive in its form, yet inviting with its central placement in the park - and its slow, pulsating glow coming from within the structure. There was also a sort of dark, humming noise surrounding the cocoon; an instrumental soundscape producing a calming, though slightly eerie undertone to the setting [2].

I was met by the artist Liv Kristin Holmberg at the edge at the park, she had two silent helpers with her, both wearing flowing garments, one of them interwoven with light bulbs across her stomach and chest. The artist whispered welcome to me before putting a white blindfold over my eyes. She then led me gently across the park, hand in hand, into the cocoon - where I was laid upon a comfortable bed of what I imagine were wool blankets or some sort of cotton.

She put her hands firmly on my shoulders and then proceeded ritualistically to wash my hands with a warm cloth, and drying them of with another piece of cloth. Then she placed a heating pad on top of my stomach and rested both of my hands upon them. That's when she started to speak.

In a stream like soliloquy, the artist started to reflect upon the subject of dreams, how it made her feel an immense sympathy and opportunity for mankind's state when she thought about the fact that we spend almost a third of our lives dreaming. What kind of alternative power can be harvested from this source of dream-energy, can it power our future cities, is it possible to trail new paths to give shape to another form of reality? She spoke about the eerie uncertainty of dreaming vs. being awake, and what the relationship between the two different forms of human perception should or could be. How she sometimes thought that maybe her whole life was constructed as a fictitious narrative, collectively telling the story of the whole world. I soon started drifting off.

If mankind has constructed a grand book of fiction where we have put ourselves as the main character of the story, does that mean we can rewrite the ending of the story ourselves fueled by the power of our dreams? Could we edit ourselves and make space for the whole story to evolve? Is there still room for a happy ending?

In critical theorist McKenzie Wark's book "Molecular Red", he writes about how creating fantasies such as science fiction and ideas of utopia can help us conjure up alternative worlds, a sort "realism of the possible" [3]. He poses the question: Can constructing science fiction and utopias models, like those written under historical times of defeat, help build an environmentally conscious and post-anthropocentric pathway for the future ahead, seeing that so much of the dystopian fiction has in fact turned out to be at least 70% correct? For McKenzie Wark, the idea that human beings are driven strictly by rationality is greatly misleading. By incorporating dreams and fantasies into the discussions on how to navigate forward in the age of the Anthropocene, we are opening up possibilities for alternative outcomes for the future for our environment and ourselves. I was woken up from my train of thought by the sound of a sacred Renaissance mass woven into the eerie soundscape from outside of the cocoon [4]. The artist then proceeded to ritualistically paint my face with a scented moist material [5]. The artist gave me a sign that I could get up and helped me crawl out of the light of the dream cocoon. I was met by one of her helpers who led me across the grass, and into the night before finally taking off my blindfold.


[1] Input and performances by: Janne Aass og Katarina Skår Lisa /Cocoon-Maker: Hroar Hesselberg/Costume- and Light Design: Sofia Findahl/Scenography Assistants: Kine Kvernbråten and Felipe Ozorio Guzman/ Producer: Helga Aakre/Light- and Sound Engineer: Roy Nilsen from "Scenekonsult"

[2] After speaking to Liv Kristin Holmberg it turns out that the eerie sound was self-composed electronically distorted organ music.

[3] http://creativetimereports.org/2015/08/20/claire-l-evans-anthropocene-fiction/

[4] Cristobal de Morales - Officum Defunctorum and Missa Pro Defunctis

[5] This turned out to be almond- and baby oil infused with incent from one of the oldest Monasteries in Serbia, Gradac Monastery, where the artist had been.