When she’s not constructing squid-shaped bicycle racks or hosting performances in makeshift “jellyfish” at Burning Man, Seattle visual artist Susan Robb is plotting her next installment. Her latest, Sleeper Cell Training Camp, is an overnight experiment in collective dreaming and will take place on Saturday— the fourth and final day of City Arts Fest. We had a quick chat about what promises to be an event worth bedding down for.
Where did you get the inspiration for Sleeper Cell Training Camp?
I did a project this summer called the Long Walk where I took 40 people on a walk from Seattle to Snoqualmie Falls. I was struck by how open people became as we were preparing to go to sleep. It reminded me of slumber parties… I got this idea to create a sort of dream cloud where people could attempt to dream together. [Training Camp] is a fundraiser to create these things called “sleeper cells” —little pods for people to sleep in that will be donated to Tent City so people without places to sleep or dream will have their own safe, comfortable, warm and cozy places. Maybe the dreaming will help somebody.
What will happen over the course of the event?
We will be eating and drinking things—all legal!—that promote dreaming, and we’re going to talk about different people’s experiences with dreams. There will also be a sound bath, which is created by an instrument called a hang drum. It looks like a flying saucer, and it sits on your lap and you play it with your fingers like a drum. It’s very resonant and ethereal.
The event will be held in this newly constructed building [The Art Stable] that’s still very much a warehouse (there are no bathrooms). We’ll be—ironically—squatting in a super high-end building, talking about donating these pods to people who don’t have homes.
What do you hope participants will get out of the experience?
What people bring to the project is what they will take away from it. Allowing people to come into your dream space metaphorically and physically is nice to think about—coming together to have an experience you typically don’t have. It’s fun to go hang out in this crazy space and be relaxed with friends and eat good food and listen to good music. It’s just fun.
The event will be held from 9pm Saturday, Oct 23, to 10am Sunday, Oct 24, at the Art Stable in South Lake Union. Tickets are $40 and space is limited. Pre-registration is required.