Innovative Artist Duo-Collective Ghost Of A Dream Shift Our Gaze To The Earth’s Problems Shrouded In An ‘Opulent’ Veil
Carefully scrutinizing the imagery – a Crocs storefront in the upper left corner and what appears to be a “STATE” theater marquee below it – we imagine ourselves in a quaint town or small city where everyday existence should be slow-paced, perhaps even serene. But those details are overtaken by the action, an array of burning police cars, which draw us into a dark narrative.
As They’ve Done to You (2022) is among five composite archival images sourced by artist duo-collective Ghost of a Dream from online news stories that have rattled our world in recent years. If this is Paradise was on view through October 10 at Geary Contemporary in Millerton, New York, a bustling village where the gallery sits prominently alongside Oblong Books boasting pithy staff picks tucked into the shelves, the bespoke Moviehouse, and carefully curated Millerton Wine and Spirits, and across the street from the quaint Millerton Inn. The main drag transforms a bucolic enclave into a burgeoning arts community that beckons folks from Manhattan and Brooklyn. A 20-minute ride away, I met Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom, the wife and husband who form Ghost of a Dream. They were celebrated guests at an elegant pescatarian Mediterranean feast catered by private chef Zachary Poulin and hosted by gallery owners Dolly Bross Geary and Jack Geary at Tenmile Distillery, a converted century-old dairy barn on 70 acres in the Oblong Valley where visitors ogle the imposing, shiny copper stills, mash tun, and vodka column.
Enjoying the evening seated across long tables in a cedar paneled room, where members store handmade, small-batch whiskey in lockers renovated by previous owner and architect Allan Shope, made me grateful for the peace and plenitude we’re sometimes afforded and underscored the need to thoughtfully and fully gaze into the intricate work of Ghost of a Dream. Our own safety forces our attention back to the precarity of burning police cars, oil rig fires, melting glaciers, flooded homes, red tide that can trigger asthma attacks and provoke chronic pulmonary symptoms even after leaving the area, and blue-green algae that can sicken humans and animals.
By depicting this array of various fire- and water-based tragedies, Ghost of a Dream amplifies the complexities that intertwine to magnify how systems of power and control erode humanity. Burning police cars figuratively evoke police brutality and social injustice, which is intrinsically linked to the systems of power that perpetuate wide-scale ecological destruction and government neglect of low-income areas where poorly maintained buildings are especially vulnerable in severe weather.
If this is Paradise makes us pause, step away from our comfort zone, and confront the reality that puts us at collective risk, harming Others first and leaving us all accountable for turning away from horrific situations as if they’re not happening to us. We have one earth, one overarching system of power. The title And if the ground’s not cold, everything is gonna burn, We’ll all take turns, I’ll get mine too, to describe iceberg images arranged and layered to create a haunting portrait of the melting polar ice, reinforces that truth.