The following originally appeared in Abraxas.
Their names are Jesse Bransford and Max Razdow and they are both artists living in New York. Jesse was Max’s art teacher at NYU. They admired each other’s art and got on well. They stayed in touch. Their art is very different and yet it meets somewhere where reality stops.
The collaborative project they are about to share at I:MAGE started with a request: do you want to be in an art show of esoteric artists (http://fulgur.co.uk/image/concept/) and do you want to write up a few words on a blog about it. They said yes and came up with The Veil of Dreams which to my knowledge, is the first piece of intra-active art between two artists and the world of the internet spanning across media as varied as dream journals, canvases, blogs, social media and three countries.
They started recording their dreams on May 1st and carry on they will till October 31st. The aim: to enter each other’s dream space by integrating magical symbols belonging to the Seidr tradition into their daily life. Their dream journals, filled with precise images and neat hand writing at times and quickly scribbled notes and doodles at others have been meticulously posted on the Veil of Dreams blog every other day, for months. They both use this online space to compare experiences and overlaps, to elaborate on where the project is going and to pin down ideas for the collaborative works they are making.
In October, they will travel to Iceland to visit sacred sites, perform a series of workings and find physical correspondences with their shared dream experiences. Straight after Iceland, they will travel to London, where they will talk about their experiences and exhibit the collaborative series emerging from the project and the journals (a few are ready and you can preview here).
Artists and dreams. They sure have a long history. Dreams and good art share many characteristics: inspirational, unexpected, life changing, multilayered. Both convey powerful yet inexplicable messages. Both move us to action in ways we don’t rationally comprehend and by sharing both, we share an intimate part of ourselves. In the opening line of the Third Mind, William Burroughs states ‘I don’t know where fiction ordinarily directs itself, but I am quite deliberately addressing myself to the whole area of what we call dreams. Precisely, what is a dream? A certain juxtaposition of word and image”. Which in many ways, is what Max and Jesse are doing. Fleeting images jotted down at dawn, only later accompanied by text which tentatively tries to explain the magic that went on the night before.
One artist painting his/her dreams is an artist who is unafraid to manifest his/her will – which accidentally fits in very well with one of the most influential definitions of magic. But what to make of two artists sharing their dreams with each other while they are still in the making? To me, much of it boils down to notions of trust and desire. By allowing one another to enter a common dream space Jesse and Max are letting go of their unique world view, they are opening to one another’s opinion and they are giving up control. They are telling each other they respect the other’s perspective enough to let them into their most sacred space where will and desires meet and there is no hiding from the self. One of the most fascinating traits of this project I think is that it gives us a hint of what it is like to open up to possibilities without thinking about the outcome and to give way to a connection that goes beyond the now and seeps through the realm of the magical, the intimate and the personal. In shared dreams, there are no possessions as you can never know if the images you experience are ever quite yours.
And finally, in shared dream spaces – and here we go back to Burrough and Gysin – there is the creation of a new identity. A new way of looking at the world which could only have been born from the collaboration. A spirit if you will and one which is born out of the stuff dreams are made of.
A series of drawings and paintings is emerging from the collaboration. They will be exhibited during I:MAGE, an exhibition of esoteric art curated by Fulgur taking place in London in October 2014.
Jesse and Max will also talk about their experience in London on Wednesday October 23rd.
Jesse Bransford is a New York based artist and the Director of Undergraduate Study at NYU since 2005. Exhibiting widely since 1997, his most recent projects have been solo exhibitions exploring pictorial and visual associations of the observable planets. Exhibitions include solo shows in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Galveston, Toronto and Montreal as well as participation in group exhibitions in New York, London, Glasgow, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Busan, among others.
Max Razdow is a New York based artist. Razdow has been a resident of the Hafnarborg Museum in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland and at DNA in Provincetown, MA. His art is held in collections in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Belgium. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Art F City, L Magazine and KunstHart (BE), OnVerge, Abraxas Journal of Esoteric Studies, K48 and n+1. In 2014-‘15 he will present a two person exhibition in New York at Freight + Volume and his third solo exhibition at Galerie Jan Dhaese in Ghent, Belgium.