Head On My Table
Dreamed 2011/2/16 by Lauren Watley
I'm a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. I have three classes; all are intense in their own ways. The last class is my Modernity and Modernism class. The book we are reading from is in some ways outdated, and I find an image in the book, of an Ife sculpture from Nigeria, that I feel is inappropriately labeled: Head of a Negro. I want to bring this up somehow, for it really bothers me.
Then I go home, and watch Tupac: Resurrection with my roommate. We get into a heated discussion; she is angry about the glorification of violence in the hip hop culture of that time. I am slightly agitated because I feel like she is almost insinuating that Tupac got what he had coming to him. She compares his murder to the suicide of Kurt Cobain. I am even more agitated by that and tell her "Suicide is not the same as murder." Why I have this discussion, I don't even know, for it is unfortunate that lives were cut short regardless of how it happened.
I am on my way to work with my roommate. She is wearing a black coat, similar to Agent Scully on the X-Files, but more stylized, with 3-quarter-length sleeves. On the back of the coat there is a symbol I don't remember, maybe a flashlight or hands; I know it means "Look out, I'm in a hurry". Someone on the street says "I like your coat", and we talk about how she got it; I think she worked on the set of some production company. At last she takes off the coat and puts another on.
We walk on down the street. Patches of grass and puddles are tinted blue. My roommate keeps saying how gross it is that there are mushrooms. I don't see mushrooms, just these patches of blue grass. I try not to step in the grass or puddles that look blue.
Then the dream changes. I don't remember how it started, but this guy is harassing me. When I get off the bus, he follows me. I walk down the street trying to hide from him. I reach a building where I think Tupac's mother lives. I want to knock on the door but I am not sure she really lives there. So I wait outside and think about what I want to say to her, and I imagine that she is waiting for me.
Then the dream changes again; now I am in my dining/living room. Someone, a combination of my roommate and Agent Scully I think, is talking about the discovery of some heads from Africa. She starts to put examples on the table. She says about one of them "Because the head is so badly decomposed, we don't know if it's a sculpture or a human head." I think to myself, "This is really bizarre and horrific, how can they not know if it's a real head or not?"
She hands that head to me, to put on the table. It's small and heavy, and hot. The head is covered in moss. It looks like no other head or sculpture of a head I have ever seen. I stare at it as it sits on the table, and it seems to emanate an energy. I feel really uncomfortable having this head on our dining room table and I think this is not a good idea.
Then I wake up.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
Last semester we covered art from Nigeria, and when looking at those sculptures I felt something hard to describe. It's like I have seen them before, back when they were made, and felt the energy of how and why the artist made them; yet now I see them on a projection screen as my teacher describes this culture like it's foreign and far away. It feels near and far at the same time, and that freaks me out! I can rarely find the words to describe the feeling--but I can when I dream.
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