About the Dreams Project
It is a state of emergency. Late-night dreams change and the new dreams inspire artistic projects, and the artistic projects influence the dreams of the artists and the audience, and the new influenced dreams influence further artistic projects. The Syrian Dreams Project, which later became The Dream Project, is an interactive project that collects late-night dreams that people experience during a state of emergency. The Syrian Dreams Project started when Mey Seifan realized that her dreams and the dreams of her social circles were changing when the demonstrations began in Syrian in 2011. Using different methods (social media, personal interviews, collaborating with field journalists…etc.) the archive expanded. The archive contains dreams coming from different Syrian experiences, dreamt by artists, detainees, refugees (at different phases of their journeys, and in different countries), rebels, fighters from the (regime, rebel, and ISIS), and fighters when they are in prison, people in safe houses, other people in destroyed houses, and list goes on and on.
Are the dreams REAL?
The attention to Syria has been reduced to the reality of the war. This is a fact! But is it all? To face this brutal reality, various combinations of art and dreams were initiated, using the archive to create artistic projects; performances, installations, choreographies, short films as NFTs As we all look for The Truth, there are always different ways of reaching truth, and psychology and art have their say on it too. Looking at some dreams from the archive, it is quite remarkable that most of the dreams in the first year of the Syrian ‘destruction’ contain water and floating. This was years before people really went into water and float to escape. Dreams are not prophecies, but why not? Arts, in turn, try to read the future. This project, however, intends to shed light on the Syrian experience, as a human experience. FOR WHAT REASON Memory is subjective. It takes place in concentrated thinking, writing down, telling stories, but just as well in suddenly appearing images, ideas - and dreams. If they are preserved and made accessible to posterity, they will form part of the pieces of the jigsaw that will be necessary to make a bitter era in Syrian history tangible and comprehensible for future generations. Topics It was the passing years that made us relate the 2011 dreams of floating and water with “The Open Border Year” in 2015-2016, which made people float to reach safety, not to forget those who could not make it. The more we go back to the archive the more we discover things and topics. We touched on notable similarities according to each years, water, in addition to water and floating in 2011 the dreams contain a lot of broken glasses, in 2012 dreams expressed, inability, numbness and repetitive actions, broken language in 2013, and so on … Senses of trauma cover a good quantity along all the years. Lucid dreaming was introduced during many events when the Dream Project is presented, whether in performances, installations, workshops or lectures. The need to stop the unstoppable destruction and to lessen the multiplying traumas could start from changing repetitive nightmares, many people suffer from. Are the Syrian dreams Syrian? It was also the passing years that made us wonder about ‘what is Syrian in the archive?’. During the rehearsals and in the aftermath of the productions, which are inspired by the archive, the multinational contributing artists expressed similarities between their personal dreams and the archived dreams we were working on. Certainly, this paved for the engagement of the participating artists’ dreams in the projects. Later, many audience members expressed similarities with the presented dreams, and the dreams of the audience were also integrated in some of TANWEEN performances. Curiosity drove us to learn what people dream of during times of state of emergency. Worth contemplating, there were many levels of similarities with dreams from the Arab world during the Arab Spring, from Nazi Germany, and from the Covid pandemic! Surely, the Syrian dreams contain elements like the actual houses and neighborhoods of the dreaming people, as well as the presence of Bashar Al-Assad in the dreams, mostly being warned by the dreamer about the coming catastrophe (A digression: the presence of Bashar Al-Asad in the dreams suggested a tragic-comic question: will the dreamer be arrested for dreaming of Bashar Al-Asad?). But dreamers from other countries and phases of history dreamt of giving advice to Mubarak and Hitler too. Are the destroyed cities, open skies, floating, camps, shelling, calm areas, custodies … etc. Syrians?