Subversive Dreams

Subversive Dreams – Allison Maria Rodriguez from Emerson Contemporary on Vimeo.

Subversive Dreams
Allison Maria Rodriguez
curated by Leonie Bradbury
Emerson Contemporary Media Art Gallery
on view from August 1 – September 13, 2020
(selected as a Special Project of the AREA CODE Art Fair)


“Subversive Dreams” features work from the “Legends Breathe” series, an ongoing project based on interviews with different female-identified and non-binary artists about childhood fantasies that assisted them in overcoming trauma. This project speaks to a strategy of survival activated through the power of creativity and invokes the imaginary, a force that is socially embraced in youth, but suppressed in adulthood.

Each of the six videos, which are installed together as an interactive installation, explores these individual fantasies, highlighting their uniqueness, their commonalities, and their inherent power. One primary element evident in all the fantasies is a harvesting of strength and transcendence through a deep connection to the natural world. The work is populated by endangered species and threatened habitats, conveying a link between the trauma and healing of our planet to that of the individual.

Artist Statement: “There is power in creativity. There is strength in reimagining.”

“Subversive Dreams” reclaims the concept of fantasy as a tool of empowerment for social change, not as a method of escapism. Declared worthless in a capitalist society centered around white patriarchal notions of productivity, fantasy and play are the building blocks in creating something new – they are exercises in resistance and in the possibility of reimagining our world.

Operating at the intersection of environmental and social justice, this work also illustrates a harvesting of strength and transcendence through a deep connection to the natural world. It conveys a link between the trauma and healing of our planet to that of the individual. Ultimately, “Subversive Dreams” emphasizes the interconnection of our universe and celebrates the power of the imagination and its crucial role in the process of actualizing new ways of being.

This project was funded in part by a grant from The CreateWell Fund.


Boston Globe Review by Cate McQuaid, August 21, 2020


“Subversive Dreams” documentation by Jim Manning