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Like a hologram, which, even when broken up, still contains within itself the experience of the whole, as human beings we are the extreme projection of that which is inherently essential. Knowledge becomes a way of gaining experience through our inner and outer perceptive systems, which are not limited to the five senses but also touch the extra-sensible, inner senses. The perception of one’s psychic existence occurs through dreams. We are not capable of self-knowledge and the integration of its potential unless it is assimilated in psychological terms. At times, we undergo unpleasant experiences without realizing that they are nothing other than projections of something internal we have not yet assimilated, not yet understood.

Anita Sieff. “Cosmic Egg: Inertia is the principle of resistance to change,” 2001. Pencil, charcoal, and tempera on paper, 164 x 198 cm.
Anita Sieff. “Cosmic Egg: Inertia is the principle of resistance to change,” 2001. Pencil, charcoal, and tempera on paper, 164 x 198 cm.

When we dream we have the opportunity to come into contact with a transversal communication that works simultaneously on all levels of consciousness. Dreams are an alchemical laboratory where psychic production occurs; disengaged from wakeful conditioning and assumptions, they manage to connect with our deeper and more authentic parts. The oneiric dimension is completely freed from the necessity to adapt to the external environment, yet it is as important as the wakeful state because it allows us to interact with our being. During sleep we tune our consciousness as one would tune a piano, so that when we are awake we can clearly perceive our notes when we encounter the physical world and become conscious. Of course, the language of dreams needs to be deciphered and interpreted as it is connected to the linguistic system of the right hemisphere of the brain. This was the language developed among humans who once had only right-brain function. Psychological identification—self-awareness as separate individuals—was a later phenomenon, tied to the evolution of the left hemisphere, beings that were more or less independent from collective taboos and the organic rhythms of life.

In evolutionary terms, a new research into the human state comes from this affirmation of the ego, a quest for the center of one’s own interior being. The appearance of this state marks the beginning of the integration of the spirit with what we might call the germination of a re-polarized personality. In a symbolic way, the brain is the ground where the divine seed, once activated, will gradually change the whole human being. It is an involutionary process, not an evolutionary one; it is a descent into the Self. Psyche accepts the challenge to compete against her fears, to project them in order to see them, because she has discovered Eros, the principle of desire which has rejoined her with her will. Gradually what she sees by the process of unveiling disappears as it becomes integrated. But Psyche doesn’t know this yet. The nervous system is unable to accept the change which can only be received in numbness.

This is the myth of Narcissus. And this is the path of Psyche too, but Psyche doesn’t subtract herself from the lack she experiences because she is seduced by it. Her unawareness becomes the strategy to generate her missing part which eventually leads her to the metamorphosis of regeneration. The cost is only the loss of control; because what counts as relevant is inseparable from the perceiver. Our life is a dream. By remembering it we contribute to its creation. 


Anita Sieff

Anita Sieff lives between Venice and New York. She has worked with Michelangelo Antonioni in Rome, and was the Project Director of Guggenheim Public, and EthTV. In 2011, in conjunction with the 54th Venice Biennale, the International Gallery of Modern Art, and Museo Ca’ Pesaro, Sieff presented the site-specific video installation Psyche.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2014

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