What Feels Most True: A Dream Hypnosis for Radical Awakeness

Laura Sullivan Cassidy
with found + collected family slides and digital images + audio
by Erin Sullivan

December 29, 2016

This exhibit is located outside on the corner of Bellevue and Pine Street on Capitol Hill. We will stand gazing into the windows of what once was the beautiful furniture store known as Area 51.

“When I was 10 a man calling himself a magician showed up in my hometown and took to the stage, pulling rabbits out of hats and “hypnotizing” citizens who then quacked like ducks and tasted vinegar when they were given plain water. Upon the backwards count of three, they remembered exactly none of it in accordance with his bellowed instructions.

From the 1800s to the ’80s, performative hypnosis was a mostly harmless hustle; in this current reality it’s a sort of assisted self-help. Just dial up a sleep induction on YouTube or download a podcast to stop smoking. Or drinking. Or eating. Or needing.

What Feels Most True is somewhere between performance and persuasion. Under a black no-moon sky, outside an urban ghost town at the dead-end of the year, images like strobe lights and words like wands are meant to rearrange natives, immigrants, and passersby alike. The quasi-narrative, two-channel, glass-enclosed slideshow will reimagine the villagers; remember them, forget them, and return them … back to where they were when they started so long ago: Pure and whole, tough and tender. Home. Alive.

And I’ll be there with them—making those return/transformations, too. Because I need to shift out of this bad dream just as we all do, and because like the magician and the hustler, there’s something I have to prove, not only to an audience but to myself.

All sickness is homesickness.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.”

—Laura Cassidy