»The white fathers told us I think, therefore I am. The black mother within each of us – the poet – whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free.«
– Audre Lorde, Poetry Is Not A Luxury
Who can afford to dream? We spend one-third of our life asleep. We wake every morning with the opportunity to shape our waking life, but how often do we as Black people feel supported in reconstructing our realities? As the ongoing racial pandemic continues to systemically claim Black lives, I continue to wonder which practices the Black community could engage with that might offer new ways of being and becoming. I turned to a practice that has always gifted me new ways of seeing, perceiving, and exploring myself – dreaming.
To discuss dreams requires us to define their different modes: aspirations, daydreams, visions, and the sensations we experience when we are asleep. Each of these actions invites us to oscillate between the worlds we exist within. They transform us into active participants in life, world builders. Can we dream – subconsciously/consciously – a society in which instead of explaining who we are, we could express what we are? Could we collectively imagine a world where the environment and Black lives are sustained and nurtured?
Dreaming is at the root of everything I do, especially my spiritual practice. I want to invite others to enjoy the tools I have cultivated and to exchange best practices so that we can get more rest as an entire community.
Ota means to dream (verb) in Swahili. This project is about dreaming together to explore the possibilities of liberation within the Black dreamscape.
Examples of Mia Imani Harrison’s work that connect to this project:
How To Return To The Earth When It Turned Its Back On You, Performance by Mia Imani Harrison, 2019, documentation on Vimeo.
Photo Essay: Striking Scenes From PICA’s Time-Based Art Festival by Andrew Jankowski.
Dreaming up Radical Resistance, Mia Imani Harrison in conversation with Bola Juju, C&, 2019.
An artist explores the power of dreams, Seattle Times, 2018.
Mia Imani Harrison is an international interdisciplinary artivist (art + activist) and arts writer. Harrison interrogates the ways that disenfranchised communities can heal individual, communal, and societal trauma by creating works that live in between the worlds of art and science. This »third way« mixes unconventional methods (dreams, rituals) and science (ethnography, geography, psychoanalysis) to dream new potential ways of being. This is done through experimental interviews, reportage, continued conversations, and the like. She strives to create generative pieces that allow the works of the artist to have a second breath outside of the confinements of an exhibition.