The Fatal Dream

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Greg Neville, The Fatal Dream, 2012

My new project has just gone up in a group show at 69 Smith Street Gallery in Fitzroy. The show is called Bound by the Book and I’m sharing the space with four of my talented former students in Photo Media at NMIT: Bernadette Boundy, Sue Lock, Sally D’Orsogna and Margot Sharman. The theme is the book in its various roles, as aesthetic object, as entertainment and as container of memory.

The work I’ve produced is taken from an 1845 edition of Boccaccio, the 14th century writer, so it’s doubly distanced in time. The book is intact but badly foxed, making beautiful patterns of decay through which the engravings can be just seen. My images are scans of the backs of these illustrations.

The Fatal Dream is the title of the last illustration, the reclining figure of a man. It seems a poetic description of our own lives, that we live in a dream from which we do not wake.

Both the book and the stories are ancient and the images convey that sense of time receding far back into the mist, with the voices from other lives growing dimmer. Since a book is a container of stories and characters, it resembles a human life, which itself has a beginning and an end. After that end, the memory of a life fades away, like the pages in this book.