The rest of our dreams

Philadelphia Contemporary and Nicole Pollard present Supine Horizons

4 minute read
Colorful visualizations light up corner walls; plants, bean bags, couch, & carpet populate the space, with 3 people resting
Installation view of 'Supine Horizons.' (Photo by David Evan McDowell, courtesy of Philadelphia Contemporary.)

Prior to the pandemic, an immersive site for “rest, resistance, and renewal” like curator Nicole Pollard’s Supine Horizons wouldn’t catch much of a look from me. For years, I embraced “the grind,” but what I failed to see was that I didn’t love the grind; I had no choice but to grind.

Poverty is expensive, scarcity mindset is an all-encompassing bastard, and all I knew of how to survive was to hustle. I resisted for a while when 2020 tried to force me into a halt, but it’s a different landscape now: old beliefs and patterns have been uprooted, falling behind old horizons and lighting new ones. Supine Horizons is not only validation that rest, resistance, and renewal are essentials we’ve long ignored or denied; it’s an actual space to explore them.

Curator of lived culture at Philadelphia Contemporary, Pollard is the curative backbone here, and Supine Horizons seeks to “dismantle the idea that rest is solely a luxury or a privilege and aims to subvert capitalist ideas of ‘hustle’ and ‘grind’ culture.” Nestled in a Germantown storefront, the installation invites folks to take on a rest session. The space is furnished with ambient soundscapes and projected visuals from Gralin Hughes Jr. (also known as Television Sky) and some of the most comfortable lounge chairs and couches I’ve ever sunk into. The carpet, too, had me wanting to knead biscuits like a kitten preparing for a late afternoon nap.

Daydreams and grace

My experience was as seamless as it was soft. The front staff was warm and inviting. They didn’t rush me into my hour-long session—taking my time was thoroughly encouraged. There is no right way to dive into the rest session, either: pace around and take in the visuals, sit in an “anti-gravity bean bag” chair, kneel or lay on the floor—there’s freedom in the space to rest however you feel comfortable. For some, the freedom is where challenges may lie, but more on that later.

I spent time in savasana—a yoga pose many people struggle with that is just about laying the hell down. I favored the visuals when I lounged in one of the anti-gravity bean bags, which Television Sky developed to correspond with modular synthesizers and software. In its auto-generation, I caught impressions of animals, mountains, oceanic waves, and even people. I was engaged, dreaming awake like I was lost in clouds just a few feet away from me.

Later, I found myself on one of the couches. A hot impulse to check my phone sleep-jerked me out of a half-awake daydream. My phone was in airplane mode. I drifted back to my dream, relieved and slightly triumphant that I had power over that impulse. In what felt like blinks later, I felt a tap on my shoulder. A half hour had passed already and my time was almost over. I was given grace again to take my time, and I did. I had to—I was transported, and it took a few minutes to come back to the physical space. It was an invigorating, revitalizing experience, and I can’t wait to go again.

The healer’s journey

Since mid-2021, I’ve assertively placed myself on a healing journey. It’s been one of the most challenging experiences of my entire life, and without having practiced things like therapy, yoga, a social-media diet, and more, I’m not sure I would have been able to receive Supine Horizons as well as I did. I encourage you to approach this site with an open mind: the value of the experience is as dependent upon ourselves as it is on the curators.

What’s your relationship with rest? What’s your relationship with work or grind culture? Have you made peace with what has cultivated your own resistance to rest—or do you at least want to make peace? If so, then Supine Horizons is for you. Going into it passively expecting some revelation or easy ah-ha moment may lead to your own disappointment, deepening your own reservations about chilling the f*** out—which is not easy, after all.

The frontier of rest

For those ready to relax, Supine is offering a variety of restful events as well, including a restorative yoga class (led by BSR contributor Hanae Victoria Mason), acupuncture by Sarah Lefkowich, a live performance by Chaka Benson and Television Sky, an immersive sound workshop for teens, a rest workshop with Pause, Rest, Be: Stillness Practices for Courage in Times of Change author Octavia Raheem, and a poetry reading and guided meditation by Philadelphia poet laureate Airea D. Matthews.

Supine Horizons is on the frontier of rest and healing. After my experience, I’m eager to return and discover myself even deeper in another dreamy session.

What, When, Where

Supine Horizons. Curated by Nicole Pollard. Through December 20, 2022, at the Kinesics Dance Dynamics Theatre, 5427 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia. Free.


Masks are strongly encouraged for the duration of the visitor’s experience.

This installation is wheelchair-accessible. Seating options include anti-gravity bean bag chairs which are low to the ground and sofas that are chair height. Earplugs and masks are available and provided upon request. There is one wheelchair-accessible restroom.

Supine Horizons will be dimly lit and will feature ambient sounds and projection of slow-moving visuals. Those with photosensitivity may want to take caution.

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