Quick Q + A: Lindsay Nohl + Midnight at Light Grey Art Lab

Camille-Chew-Shifting

As all Hallow’s Eve approaches, many of us ruminate on the dark and scary parts of the material and spirit world—but honestly what could be spookier than the subconscious of our own crazy modern minds? Several artists tackle that theme in the upcoming multi-artist exhibition Midnight at the Light Grey Art Lab gallery. The opening reception for Midnight is this Friday, October 28th at 7 PM, and to help build up our bravery for the show we shot some quick questions over to curator Lindsay Nohl to hear more about it.

Secrets of the City: What’s the enduring appeal of “intuition, divination, and the subconscious” for an art show like Midnight and the corresponding workshops? Do we get to inhabit and converse with a (sometime all too real) additional reality?

Lindsay Nohl: The Midnight exhibition reminds us that there is a whole side of ourselves that we meet at night. Our dreams are reflections of desires, emotions and situations we can’t, (or won’t) manifest in the waking world. In this exhibition, we asked artists to analyze a particularly vivid dream and to produce a piece of work with the symbols, metaphors and subjects within. We hope that through this, artists can use the piece as a threshold between two worlds– a way to step into the other side and learn more about themselves and what alternate realities they live while they sleep. Dreams aren’t literal. Our subconscious speaks in signs and signals, and in order to understand them, they need to be translated. This exhibition allows viewers a chance to help interpret those symbols for the artists, as well as see inside the minds of the creators.

The appeal for the subjects of intuition, divination and the subconscious come from our desire for understanding. It is human nature to want to create order out of the chaos and to assign meaning to things that might seem random or organic. A person’s subconscious works it’s magic through our “gut-feelings” — sometimes giving us insight when we least expect it, and we learn to trust it even though we can’t explain exactly why. If we only knew how to unlock the secrets of our subconscious, we might understand ourselves a bit better and utilize the signals we provide ourselves to manifest more in the waking world.

Light Grey Art Lab has done several really great shows with large numbers of artists—what’s behind this “more is better” approach?

We have two reasons for the group-show concept. Imagine shouting a question into a room of 100 people and receiving 100 different perspectives at once. When you view such a large amount of work on a single subject you get both an idea of how the creative community feels about the subject and it’s nuanced pieces and parts, and you get a more comprehensive idea of the subject itself. It’s as much a room full of interpretations as much as a research project. We look to understand the thematic concepts through the eyes of a group. The second reason we exhibit group shows is that our mission is to build community and conversation between artists. Our pre-show prep includes shared documents, social media process sharing, and a follow-Up through thematic blog posts where artists can respond to one another and connect over their shared interest in a topic. It’s one way to make the global art community feel more approachable and intimate.

As a curator, what does your own subconscious tell you? Get more sleep?

I am infinitely interested in understanding the hidden side of being a human. If I could understand why things “feel right” or why I have inklings that things will turn out, or even if I could just meet that part of myself that I live through in dreams, i think I would feel like I’ve unlocked something incredible. Almost like the secrets to why I do what I do… I’ve learned to trust that subtle, cloaked side of my intuition regardless of how much it makes rational sense, because for whatever reason, she’s always been an incredible, and very insightful guide.

Pic: Shifting by Camille Chew