Video commissioned by Picture Window and Market Gallery for Sonica 2015. Soundtrack made in collaboration with artist Jessica Argo.
I spent my summer in the city, and during those hot unsettled months I had many vivid dreams. Certain themes keep recurring, I noted in my diary. Water, crowds, journeys. All very emotional. I wrote. I suppose it was my brain’s way of processing the extra information. On one of my first days in the city I found the words I DREAM AS BADLY AS I TAG scribbled on the back of a toilet door. How can you dream badly? I remember thinking. Does it mean you have bad dreams, like the nightmare I had when I was five about Beetlejuice drilling a hole in my hand. Or does it mean that you are bad at dreaming?
On one of my last days in the city we made a special trip to the record shop tucked behind our favourite café, stacked floor to ceiling with records and out-dated equipment, where the owner sat, god-like, enthroned behind a wide desk, his attendants the smiling faces of long-dead singers stuck to the wall. He sold me a record featuring Marika Ninou, one of the most famous singers of her day. It is a rare live recording from Fat Jimmy’s in 1955, and you can hear the sounds of passing motorbikes and jokes from the crowd. As it says on the back of the record:
“In order to understand the importance of this testimony, we have to bear in mind that in 1955 we are very close to the end of the Civil War, in a period where the rural population comes into the cities or emigrates, where the American way of life becomes a target, while dreams and expectations struggle to come on the surface and governments are formed and collapse in a strange atmosphere of tremendous discoveries and peculiar alliances.
A successful programme is composed with exoticism, moral lessons, rememorations, cries, desires, Turkish songs and recent hits. This pot-pourri becomes more and more punching and reaches its peak at the end in a series of jokes that constitute the surest outline of the Greek reality we have forgotten, although its consequences are on our shoulders … in that transitional period, where songs were a social contract, a joyful opening to the world, a healthy search of pleasure.”
As I place the needle on the record, time and space are flattened. Or maybe not flattened, rather, reorganised, into one malleable present, as dreams can do. The past and present and a potential future all right now and I can feel it, as her voice passes straight through my ears and into my heart.