“You are illiterate in the way leaves are illiterate: they do not read, they are there to be read; and if they are properly read, they create their own literature.”
The quote, which belongs to the poet Derek Walcott, can be found in the script of artist Santiago Mostyn’s latest installation, Dream One, produced for Södertälje konsthall. In the central video, the artist meets digital and re-enacted versions of Walcott before his death, with the poet telling a story about a “douenne,” a child-like, folkloric creature from Trinidad known for its capacity to lure children deep into the forest. As an artist Santiago Mostyn is well-known for his ability to create politically explosive narratives through an associative, almost lyrical, style of visual storytelling. Dream One is no exception, borne by deep political and ethical dimensions that touch upon subjects such as rootlessness, home and that which remains hidden, perhaps even secret. Images are charged with language and language is charged through image and narration.
In Dream One Santiago Mostyn pushes video and sound installation towards new realms. We experience the embodiment of a dream dispersed into a number of sound sources, among them a human-made thunderstorm played through speakers installed into the pods of Brazil nuts, a tree native to the tropics. The exhibition becomes a landscape with two main protagonists, an older storyteller, played by three actors who attempt to fill the personae of the poet Derek Walcott; and a younger character, a boy of the Arawak tribe, who speaks to us in Lokono, one of the regional languages spoken by indigenous people during their first encounter with Europeans in the Caribbean. It is a language now on the brink of extinction.
An extensive number of persons active as musicians, actors and writers have contributed to the creation of Dream One. Among them are actor Richard Sseruwagi, the reggae artist Eek-a-Mouse and Katarina Strandmark, actress and daughter of the late Erik Strandmark, the Swedish actor and director who died in a plane crash in Trinidad in 1963.
In Dream One, narratives seems to overcome time, even death itself – at the same time refusing simplifications. The visitor is invited into a journey that moves through complicated histories narrated through visual, oral, and even physical sonic presence. We are invited to experience the installation with all senses, maybe more than anything, through deep listening and introspection. Through a careful curation of dreams, readings, and relationships Santiago Mostyn transforms the gallery into an archipelago to another world.
Derek Walcott’s essay The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory.
Text by: Joanna Sandell, director Södertälje konsthall
Actors: Ripton Hylton, Richard Sseruwagi, Katarina Strandmark
Voices: Leander Vermaning, Diego Vermaning, Raymond Edwards
Film Production: Marcus Harrling (DoP), Ted Malmros, Jens Masimov, William Rickman
Sound: Julia Giertz, William Rickman
Words & Story:Gérard Besson, Patrice Lawrence, Santiago Mostyn, V.S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott
Character Animation: Esther Ericsson, Jens Evaldsson,
Lokono Language: Konrad Rybka
Thanks: Miguel Browne, Christopher Cozier, Leroy Clarke, Simon Ferner, Boscoe Holder, Susanna Jablonski, Joanna Sandell, Shari Strandmark