Mirages of Dreams Past by lens-based mixed media artist, archivist, Alanna Fields, is comprised of a new series of large-scale mixed-media collages exploring the representation of Black queer desire, sensuality, leisure, and memory.

For the works in Mirages of Dreams Past at Baxter Street Camera Club—Fields’s first solo exhibition—the artist draws upon an eclectic range of vernacular photographs of Black queer people dating from the 1960s to the 1970s. Reframing this found archive using a kaleidoscopic technique, Fields repeats and layers a single image to both reconstruct the way we process images and push beyond the constructs of nostalgia and memory. Through the use of wax, she applies different levels of transparency to each figure: they emerge and dissolve, slipping in and out of view, in constant stages of revealing and concealing what can’t be accessed in real-time.

The pieces in Mirages of Dreams Past build upon Fields’s acclaimed recent series “Audacity” (2019-20) and “As We Were” (2019), in which wax served as a means to seal and memorialize Black queer life and visually address how it has historically been obscured and concealed. In the new works, however, the wax begins to frame rather than conceal: nature, vibrant interiors, and images of home come into focus.

“The past is always with us as we carry our histories in our bodies,” says Fields. “It holds a richness that we must engage in order to understand and unpack our collective memories, grapple with the present, and imagine the future. Reflecting upon intimate moments of solitude, freedom, and desire, these works traverse through a boundless black queer dream space that amplifies, echoes and reverberates back to the viewer, bringing memory into focus.”

Alanna Fields asks the viewer to look more deeply and closely at tender and quiet moments and to reflect upon memory, intimacy, and vulnerability. Working to create a new archive, the artist explores dreaming and dream spaces as a means of venturing through memory, piercing the historical record’s veil and shining a light on what was hiding in plain sight.