We Do Not Dream Alone: Part II
Asia Society Triennial
The sleep of reason produces monsters, Francisco Goya alleged in an eponymous etching made just before the turn of the nineteenth century. He feared a loss of European Enlightenment-era values, a return to depravity and corruption. Can we imagine a more fruitful form of dreaming, a collaborative one, one rooted not in the soil of Europe but in the diaspora of Asia?
The second part of the inaugural Asia Society Triennial, which continues at the Asia Society with a mostly-new group of artists, alleges so. The works on here are evidence of the long-standing investment of the Asia Society in shoring up Asian art production: four contributors, Samita Sinha, Susie Ibarra, Melati Suryodarmo, and Vibha Galhotra, were previously members of the Asia Society Creative Common Ground initiative; Abir Karmakar’s suite of six paintings was commissioned by the Society; and the show features multiple site-specific exhibitions.
As a result, part two of the triennial, more than the first, tends toward environments—particularly, in line with its title, dreamscapes. Melati Suryodarmo’s performance piece If We Were XYZ (2019, 2021) incorporates the artist’s REM waves as documented in a sleep laboratory. Song-Ming Ang’s installation True Stories (2021) features abstract images and texts, arranged on seven music stands clustered in the center of the room; surrounding speakers transmit an ambient soundtrack of non-sequiturs, pacing through a nonsensical dream logic—fitting for an exhibition which centers the collective gestation of dreaming.
Joyce Ho, Taiwan, Help Is On the Way, 2019. Acrylic on lamp cover. 14 3/4 x 14 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Photograph courtesy of the artist.