P a u l M. N i c h o l s o n

Real Dreamcatcher

Real Dreamcatcher, 2017

36 x 45 x 2" EEG cables, [photosensitive] animitronic chirping birds, hula hoop

The EEG, or electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that detects electrical activity in the brain; in this work, EEG
cables have been woven into the fractal spider web-like pattern of an Ojibwe Dreamcatcher. Dreamcatchers
were traditionally used as protective charms for infants and children.

Real Dreamcatcher crashes together a traditional indigenous cultural practice with utilitarian western
medicine through a lyrical interactive work. In place of traditional feathers and beads, color coordinated
plastic wire caps and photosensitive chirping birds hang below the hoop, peeping a brief call when someone
passes by. This work explores cultural appropriation as a metaphor to talk about the west’s “rediscovery” of
eastern, indigenous, and other traditional practices. Hegemonic power disregards minority cultures until it
finds a way to monetize or otherwise capitalize on it, upon which time it is later rediscovered. Original
sources go unacknowledged, and even less often are compensated for the theft.

Despite advances in science, medicine and technology, the specific reasons for health and wellness are
frequently elusive. Who gets sick or stays well often feels like it comes down to luck. Treatments someone
might not have considered when well start to seem not only plausible, but necessary when we’re desperately
ill. Our malleability and often late conversion to faith, born of desperation, is perhaps a reminder that we
might be better served by being proactive about preserving and protecting endangered cultural practices
before they are lost and forever be out of reach.

This work was first shown in November 2017, at Local Project Gallery in a show called Botanical, and later as a part of the exhibition, Permission Structures

Click here to see all works in the the Permission Structures Exhibition

click here to view or download the Permission Structures Catalog