Can fantasy shape your world? What does it bring to mind? What are you dreaming of? Which far-off place? Who is your ideal self? Where do they live and who do they vote for? A few of the many questions that I ask when making work about a subject that has fascinated me for years. That is fantasy. In this case, I do not mean the fantasy of strange mythological animals and people whose fictional lives are full of adventures in distant lands, although that is apart of my work. I mean fantasy as unrealistic mental images on which one repeatedly dwells, that reflects one’s conscious or unconscious desires. As human beings, our brains give us the unique ability to imagine; we can imagine the future, complex stories, objects, creatures and events. Fantasising is certainly something that has lead us to be as creative and as innovative as we are but it is also something that we can and have used to orchestrate our lives. Those images that we imagine about how our life should go and about how the world should be are deeply personal and specific to individual memory, history and personality. But they can also be collective, shared and in some cases contagious.
Fantasy and idealism can be used to gather people together or to separate people from each other, first ideological and then culturally and physically. Fantasy and idealism, can be used or weaponised by politicians through their speeches as well as in entertainment. We use them to determine how we shape land and and why we might move from one place to the next. Our imagination; our fantasy about our own ideal personhood, shapes our identity and sense of self.
And so, by using the genre of fantasy, escapism and magical realism (that is those strange mythical creatures), I make work that addresses the subject of fantasy, idealism and imagination. Artist Trevor Paglen states “Fantasy or imagination can be used as a tool to access and evaluate truth”. I use world building to metaphorically address the human condition and explore various theories about identity, land, political control, acts and ideas of power and media influence. What are our collective fantasies about ourselves, our nations and our world? How are they linked to conflict, struggle and acts of aggression but also beauty, story and triumph.
“…It is one thing to daydream and conjure up wishful images of the way things oughts to be in order that one’s instinctually-based fantasies may come true. It is quite another matter, and a more important one in cultural terms (for daydreaming in excess is the province of the neurotic), to restructure the world symbolically and to act upon it to achieve discharge and mastery – to actually apply symbolic vision to the alteration of reality itself.” - Joel Kovel