January 2009, THE SURREAL WORLD OF DION MCGREGOR @ Seventeen Gallery

January 2009,  THE SURREAL WORLD OF DION MCGREGOR @ Seventeen Gallery

Thursday 11th Dec - Saturday 24th Jan 2009
Seventeen Gallery
17 Kingsland Road
London E2 8AA
I’ve come to a frustrating point where I would go to an exhibition and be completely under whelmed by the predictable paintings/ sculptures/ video/ performance/ installations that are carefully “considered” into display all over the city. That is why the Dion McGregor’s show is so undeniably refreshing in the vaults of Seventeen Gallery. Reason being, McGregor never perpetuated himself as an artist, but what he created and left has gone on to intrigue, inspire, and entertain artists and non-artists alike for many decades. Artistically he is close to surrealism and Freudian theory, medically he is an anomaly, in reality he is a failed lyricist with a fascinating peculiarity. His recorded phenomenon can be described as a literal capturing of the imagination. 
McGregor may be histories most famous recorded sleep talker. He is a verbal dreamer dictating his dreams as a storyteller, allowing listeners access to his subconscious, a goldmine for any self-respecting psychoanalyst. Michael Barr, McGregor’s roommate during the late 1950’s, fascinated by his friend’s nocturnal tendencies obsessively recorded McGregor’s dreams for several years. McGregor’s dreams are not anymore special than anybody else’s dreams. What makes his case so unique is that he narrates exactly what his unconscious mind is experiencing during his sleep. Most people, including McGregor, dream and wake up forgetting what they have dreamt. McGregor has recorded evidence of what type of journey his mind has gone through during the night.
There is no doubt that McGregor was a tortured human being. His dreams depict elaborate crazy rituals, hosted by McGregor and almost always ending in the worst for him. As much anxiety and terrifying circumstances his dreams conjure up there is always something completely hilarious to his dreams that verge on the absurd. Food Roulette may be my favorite. Here there are about 100 éclairs on a roulette table with one poisoned éclair in their midst. McGregor tries to control the jostling crowd into a line in order to take a spin and pick an éclair. At one point the crowd spins the roulette too hard making two éclairs fall. They are quickly put back on the table, as directed by McGregor, so as to not ruin the game. His dreams are not only fascinating for the insight that it brings into McGregor’s psyche but also the subtle hints it reveals about the late 1950, early 1960’s mentality. One dream is about the first balloon ride to the moon where McGregor is calling out the names of all the participants from around the world. He picks ethnic names matching them up with their stereotypical “home” countries. Here slight xenophobia is uncovered especially when matched with the state of immigration around that time period.
Seventeen Gallery curates McGregor’s dreams into a perfect environment. While walking down into the darkened vaults surrounded by dusty old furniture, you can’t help but be transported to another place and time, similar to looking through your grandparents’ old belongings in their attic. Phil Milstein writes the forward to the exhibition detailing McGregor’s biography and the discovery of his quirky behavior. The only light emitted in this exhibition is by the tvs that house McGregor’s sleeping voice. The monitors surrounded by armchairs act like campfires inviting you to listen to stories from the distant past. 
whitehot gallery images, click a thumbnail.