Jamila Johnson-Small 
An Elaborate System of Pink Wires

Jamila Johnson-Small is a London-based artist and dancer.

The patterns of my dreaming July through August form the threads of this summer diary. Notes and openings and frayed edges.



Participatory performance, almost torture to do, it involves some kind of trickery and happens on a dark street, body freezes and is obedient, sticks to fences, frozen in the middle of the road whilst creatures circulate and stress […] We are speaking about my dead cunt.


I think about Road Postures by Roberta Jean — I’ve not seen this work but feel it an appropriate title for this dream dance.

I have lost the desire to have sex — this is what ‘my dead cunt’ is. Good name for a band from the late 80s. I think about the band Death and black punks and whether this is an oxymoronic concept. Black is punk. Black is queer. Black is always other in this language. I am the puss you squeeze out from your blemishes. Black is the absence of light. Black is all light. This is communion. I went visiting with a good friend, we talked about life and love and the blackness of blackness and the misery and ingenuity and the laughter and the shouts of being recognised of being invisible and all in the small glow of the light of the spark of a spliff. Sometimes I open the door and it’s a hell that’s familiar and I realise I am actually way underground, ears groping at balance like my body has just realised that we’ve dropped below sea level.



Eyes open 05:55

I have a scratch on my chest and something red and sticky there. In the dream I am thinking through the reasons why my relationship with ______ failed.


Mirror hours have been stalking me for the last while. It’s good to think about colonial time as symbols beyond bosses of my body, as things that might want to touch and communicate rather than control me, things that might recognise my subjectivity, see me. Everything is a messenger of some kind. 555 opens my eyes and tells me to look at those dreams. It’s been a pattern. Did I literally dream of my own scratched and bleeding heart? Scratched but not broken.

I have started to understand some thing about prayer.

Anne Carson is writing about Sappho and the ectasis of love –

love dares itself to leave itself behind, to enter into poverty

and I am busy trying to learn how to set boundaries and feel my own edges so that I can hold myself so that I leave myself behind…

Life cycles. The geometry of feeling like a constantly shifting cartography I see in my head, I tattoo on my body. No line is straight.



I am at the airport in Berlin trying to decide whether I get on a plane to New York. I am pleased to have made it this far but I haven’t arranged my NY lodgings.


This dream was me moving out from a hard depression that lasted three weeks.




She kicks what looks like a clear rose quartz crystal and swipes some lip balm over a split inlay in the rock and says that’s all she has to give and gives it to me. I put it into my bum bag.


I am concerned that perhaps I am too busy.

I am struggling to put something into the bin.

At another point in another dream my hearing is failing… slipping away from me.



an elaborate system of wires they are pink

I am in someone’s house who I don’t really know, they are rich and a friend of _____. He has been to at least one of my shows. He looks like ___________. I ask to go into his house to use or borrow something. He is unimpressed but seems to let me in out of guilt. It’s a big house he shares with his parents. He hands me something I need from his room, then shuts the door and I keep getting lost in the house, there are so many bathrooms and his dad is in one. The mum catches me and I feel stupid but make it out. Later in the dream I am back in the house collecting some of my things that are stored there. The dad catches me and has a go at me really violently shouting and saying horrible things. I am trembling internally I don’t think I can speak.


Imposter Syndrome wants to play at night.



She has brought a small candle you can light via an app on your phone.



I am in a bed with ________ (someone who used to be in proximity as my friend). We are trying to get on but coming to disagreements. One of which is that I am lying there and I realise she has her feet so my legs can’t fully extend — she’s lying diagonally. I am lying there squashed, thinking she is XXX cm I am XXX cm + [a higher number], she can give me some space. She gets annoyed when I ask her to move. She hasn’t realised/doesn’t want to accept she’s squashing me. I slap her and she punches me in the stomach. I hold her down and say we can fight if she wants to…

[sometimes the dream is just a simple metaphor for things waking eyes do not want to accept. Like endings — a concept I find it difficult to hold]

There is something about brown glass bottles with different labels to fix things, I am consulting with some people and one of the bottles is called ‘spiral’. We agree it won’t be effective for healing the situation this time.

[sometimes the dream is just giving the answer. Sometimes the answer is simply ‘no’]

Inside the dream I wonder how you can figure these things out about a person, I wonder how you know who will turn bad and try to hurt you, how we know to trust?


I just watched a show where the ex/current girlfriend of some boy shares the nudes of the girlfriend that came inbetween, from the boyfriend’s phone and puts them on social media. Trust in 2020. Don’t put your face in it, idiot, the best friend says. Breasts are breasts and ass is ass and a dick is a dick, no? Where is our tenderness? I made silicone casts of my nipples and gave them to people. When watching films I often wonder when the body doubles make an appearance and when it is for modesty (/the perpetuation of shaming?) and when it is for vanity (/the shame).



Everyone has peonies beside their beds apart from me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve slept the latest or if I am not liked.


Half dreaming about looking for a name that gives space.


1010: A sign of positive change, unknown openings and coming love.

Says the oracle.

I find my new name though. This is a love story between me and me.



Dreaming about removing things from skin — insects with stings that look like thin cloves.

I live in Stoke Newington and I am concerned about going back to prison as I lie on my bed and deal with the bugs.


I was due to be having a baby but I had an abortion


Somewhere in all the dreams I was rearranging the plants on my shelf


A friend suggested my childhood skin condition could be the reason for my dream obsession with things attacking my skin. Fear of invasion, fear of being overcome… and yet… I want to be taken, can’t lie. Embodiedness, sensing, is paradox. Delicate balancing. In the dreams I am there trying to get rid of something, something I can’t seem to just put in the bin. I have many strategies — manual local removal, termination, changing the conditions… options?

Eleventeen by Daisy Chainsaw comes to mind.

It’s Leo season. My season. The energy shifts like an engine revving and I wonder what the fuel is. That feeling of when nothing has changed but everything is different. The subtlety of buzzing, slightly intoxicated and a shadow breath away from the immediacy of the throb of a heartbeat, making me audience and performer and venue for its resonance.



Prophets and oracles. I woke up one point with the answer to a question for my friend _____ — it was her song lyric, I had the line playing in my head. Something about size and/or time?


Either the situation was boring or life threatening and he left in a huge puffa jacket


This is not the first time that I dream for somebody else that they hold their own answers within their work, their creative output.

I know we want some kind of holding and the dreams are telling me that this is already there.

On this day I take a new artist name. ______ is staying with me and it’s one of those things that takes a long time and an incredibly short time to do. Change. Transformation. Decomposition. The contracting and expanding of time at different rhythms, this catches me a lot at the moment, or lets me slip… and I’m caught by — snagged on — some email like a nail in a wall I am rubbing myself along.



Dreamt I killed a man in self-defence.

She is talking about the sudden temperature change. I feel so stressed.


This is the day my heart cracks open like a sun.

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