“Exit Sandman, Enter Muse”

Nicole Lasquety
3 min readOct 15, 2023

The past couple of months as defined by the Muse’s vengeance on my hypersomnia.

“Exit Sandman, Enter Muse"
Adaptation of "The Nightmare" by Henri Fuseli
By Nicole Lasquety
Oil on Palette
2023

The title, if you haven’t guessed, is from Metallica’s song “Enter Sandman”. I wanted to make an artwork about sleep, inspired by the art, mythology, and psychology produced on that subject matter, instead I made an artwork about not wanting to sleep, which basically describes how I’ve been for the past couple months: bad trip na kailangan ko pala matulog. Although stubbornly refusing to sleep is usually something you hear from kids, and how they can’t wait to see the future, not adults who have to show up to work, and worse, only think only about getting through each day. So I guess I’m young in that sense.

The Muse (detail)

I find it hard to believe that I was the exact opposite for a long time, I find it even harder to believe how disorienting it feels short circuiting my rehashing of the past, but also not being quite at the future just yet. That’s why I depicted the muse as slightly younger. In art history, the muse is often depicted as an idealized woman, the embodiment of the spirit bringing artistic inspiration, and yet, she relies on an artist to be brought into being. But as Barbie said, "I don't want to be the idea, I want to be the one doing the imagining". I wanted to give the muse personal agency, because if I can do it for my art, then I can do that in my life.

Mr. Sandman (detail)

I feel like I’m imagining like a kid again. I wondered what it would be like to beat Mr. Sandman at his game. Have you ever seen Sandman put to sleep, get a taste of his own medicine? I wondered, hypothetically, besides the days subtracted from a person’s life, on a mythical, philosophical, psychoanalytical level what the consequences are for messing with the fabric of nature's design (although I'm not at all into the reductionist view that all natural design = good. A lot of things are unnatural but are beautiful and beneficial if you look around, a lot of things are natural that are harmful). A land with no memory or conception of sleep, maybe they’d recharged in some cryo-coffin, made to inhale some formulated oxygen for a couple seconds a few times a day, I don’t know. Maybe that means they have no means of processing their subconscious through dreaming. Maybe I’ll work on that when I’m not stumped.

Grim Reaper (detail)

But in Hamlet’s famous monologue, sleep is also associated with inactivity and death, which is exactly what my year of hypersomnia felt like (shout out to Ottessa Moshfegh). And yet, I included the Grim Reaper in the background which rather than signaling escapism or a dead end, means something else today: the stakes have become real. Why else would I squeeze in a couple more hours at all, if not to live a couple hours longer? But I know it doesn’t work that way, that’s why I put it in a painting instead.

Life imitates art: Our dog climbed on my back as I was trying to squeeze in a few minutes before going back to painting. He also chewed on one of my paintbrushes. It's as if he's telling me to finish my painting!

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Nicole Lasquety

A visual artist and writer with a passion for media exploration, where big ideas are commonplace. Art, theater, personal essays. lasquetynicole@gmail.com