As a photojournalist by trade, I often think about the role of photography in either supporting or pushing back against biases.
I believe empathy is endangered due to today’s politically- and technologically-driven world, and it’s important to analyze our relationships beyond biases that usually divide us. Sleep is an immediate connection to our subconscious, a territory we all occupy, and where our most honest, unhinged, emotions lie.
Using the subconscious as a common ground, this series re-creates my own dreams, as well as those that others have shared with me, in photographs. This work explores the human condition on its most universal level, and safeguards notions of empathy to push back against the biases that divide us in the waking world.
Mark was an orange. He was in pain and worry and he was an orange. I carried the orange around, which had a head like mark carved into it. Mark was trapped in there and I just wanted him to feel better. I kept holding him close and walking back and forth with him. We were standing on a patio near a driveway and there was a person behind me making sounds. I just kept rocking him. What I was unaware of was in reality, I was having this whole dream while asleep on Mark’s lap.
I met Pa in an attic bedroom of someone’s house. He was sick, he’s been sick with cancer since I’m 3 years old, which is why I’ve never seen him. He was no longer himself so he went to live in this place. When I met him he looked just like all the pictures I’ve seen of him. He wasn’t allowed to talk to me much, and there was so much I wanted to say to him but I couldn’t because of his condition. He didn’t have breathing tubes or anything. The room was small and pretty dark. It reminded me of the room next to grandma’s attic. Pa sat at a small kitchen table and just kept smiling. I wanted to tell him that I've been told we laugh and smile the same way, and that I’ve always had things to ask him about Grandma. I couldn’t speak when I saw him, but I did laugh with him a lot.
I went on a trip and the place I was staying was haunted. The door to my closet kept opening on its own. The door was brown and there were clothes both in and outside, hanging.
Ed and I were at a bar and then driving somewhere. He was driving and it was dark up a big hill in the mountains. There was a car in front of us and we were going very fast. Things were mostly black except for red lights from the car in front of us. It looked like California— desert mountains like the ones in Golden Gate Bridge Park seen via the headlights of the car. I could see Ed’s face with Red lights from the car in front of us, and I think he put his head on my lap (while driving). We were being so reckless-- in so many ways.
I got an email from Father Peter that required me to be at a mandatory Villanova staff event from 3-5. It was some sort of gala, but I was supposed to be at the Inquirer when it was scheduled. My heart dropped to the ground, as it normally does right before I’m flooded with anxiety. In the dream, I was just sitting at my computer. Back of my head (or side of my nose as if I’m seeing w my own eyes). I could see my hand and the computer screen, but that’s all.
I went to visit Mark for his birthday. His roommate and friend, Dave, was helping me surprise him. Mark either didn’t wanna get out of bed or didn’t want to get dressed into nice clothes, or something like that. I was waiting for him and we [Dave and I] couldn’t get him to come see me. He didn’t know I was there. It took place in something similar to the mansions in Squirrel Hill. It kind of looked like his driveway garage in Pittsburgh. The house where we were was on a big hill and it was a big house next to another big Victorian looking garage. I saw Mark, but he didn’t see me. There may have been a girl there with him, but I didn’t know her. I wasn’t upset by it either. Mark was wearing flannel and Dave was wearing black. Dave was really one I was talking to a lot because he came out to my car to help me strategize.
My family was going on a hiking trip, but there wasn’t enough room for me on the bus. So I let Mom and Jenna take the bus. Then it went missing and no one who took the bus was reachable so we concluded that the hikers on that bus were all dead— everyone looking for them thought they went over a mountain and off a cliff because they signed up for the challenging hike and it was in tall, alps-like mountains.
It was so sad, I wanted to bring them back. I didn’t say anything nice to Jenna before I left— I didn’t hug her and tell her how much I love her. I took her for granted. I was so sad about Mom, but didn’t even have the mental capacity to process both of them. I was just thinking about how young Jenna was and what an excellent person she was whose life was cut way too short, and it broke me into a million pieces in a cold place where I felt alone even though there were so many people around.
I ran into Sydney Majowicz at a bowling alley party. There were a lot of people from high school there, but she was the only person I saw and talked to. She didn’t stop talking. She was trying to tell me how and where to travel. We ended up in this old little playhouse thing (looked similar to the Berenstein Bears house in Disney world except the lighting was really dim and fluorescent and the inside was not colorful and cheery— it was gray. It was also gray outside, not sunny and bright, but the grass was green and the house was pink and blue, I think) and she was trying to tell me how to travel around there. She just didn’t stop talking.
I ended up in the psych ward where a lot of my colleagues from college were. I think I was there because I had gotten angry at someone / something and that’s where they sent me. I had no idea what kind of program I was in or how long I would have to stay. So I was really scared and mean to everyone around me. I was lying in this bed and Vrushabh was in a bed next to me. It was a flat bed and we were covered tightly in white sheets. I heard a lot of sizzling, and I felt bugs crawling across my head. They felt like rats. I looked at Vrushabh and said “what’s going across my face?!” And he said it was cockroaches. When I could finally sit up I saw a pile of them— big and small, on the floor. I crushed them.
Then Vrushabh was discharged. I didn’t know when I would get out and I was killing people— not just cockroaches. I was afraid the hospital staff would know and I had to find a way to get rid of my journals. And there was one guy, a nurse, who I don’t know from real life but I think I may have seen him in a coffee shop last week who I wanted to have sex with, but I just killed people and I couldn’t tell him about it (not to mention I was a patient) so I couldn't bring myself to do anything with him. Later, I found out that (as long as the staff doesn't find out about the people I killed) I might get discharged 24 hours. Only rule: no phones.
I was running around naked in a fenced-in field next to cinder-block garage looking buildings and people were looking at me. There was a fence behind me and a cinder-block building in front of me. It almost looked like the concentration camp at Dachau, but there was grass on the ground. The fence was all silver so no one could see in or out, and it was built on a small grass hill. Being there made me crazier than I was when I got in. I was afraid of being raped. People were staring— men were staring.
Lindsay was pregnant and she wanted to cheer on a softball team. I thought I had cancer and was always reminded by my shortness of breath. Jenna and I were on a school bus with her and she jumped off the bus and onto the field, which was built on the side of a really steep hill. She stood right next to the batter and was cheering for them to beat the rivals. She wore a yellow shirt (can’t remember the name of the school that was printed on it) and the rival team was in light/pale green.
I was sure Tasha hated me, and she was really cold to me, and then one day she gave all these love letters to people and I was one. We lived in an old, dark, house similar to Sasha’s, but much richer and grander than that. It had dark floors and colors. I found a note on my bed, but she came home before I could open it. She wrote 3 pages for me.
I found my journal at the camp where I stayed a few weeks ago. Then it was time to go to the dance, but since I was a counselor I had to shower last. After I showered I was putting my makeup on and I put eyeliner in my eyeball to color my eyes darker. I outlined the edge of the iris with my eyeliner brush— it worked like I was using the burn tool on photoshop. I just wanted the middle color to pop so I made the outline dark. I was working in a dirty bathroom with a skylight, but all I really saw was my eye being outlined in so many ways flashing before me. Then I painted lines on the whites of my eyes too— instead of making the lash line more defined, I put the lash line inside my eye.
Tasha and I were both doing our own things, but we ended up at the same hotel. I saw Bart there, who was being nice to me about getting dressed up, but then these people came up to us and said they were going to shoot up the hotel and they ended up not having bullets. Bart didn’t care, but I was scared and wanted to run to my friend’s room where I was going. The hotel looked kind of like the one in LA— there was an open door at the end but the inside was lit with incandescent lights, red carpet, and yellow walls. It was winter outside but I wasn’t cold.
Quynh called and said she and Norman are going out somewhere for dinner and that I should come. I told her Tasha was around too. I was going to meet Finnian for our own dinner, but when Quynh suggested Tasha and the friends she was meeting all go to dinner Tasha got really mad because she can’t afford to eat out. They had a phone screaming conversation where Tasha said “I don’t care what Margo said about me being here, why is that okay?! Are YOU going to marry your boyfriend?! I don’t have money to go out I eat at home EVERY NIGHT.” But she was still reasonable about it, and they made up. She told Quynh she should break up with her boyfriend because she hinted at wanting to do it.
Then, Tasha and I walked together to the train station to go to our respective dinners (mine was with Finnian and her’s with the film kids), and the bus station was on the side of a random open road. She was dressed really nice. Hair pulled back, curls on the sides (as if her bangs were parted) and she wore a big wool warm coat with lipstick (like the one in her. She said earlier she doesn’t like when her curls blow, but she is thin enough now to still make it work.
I was hanging out in the car with a guy I went to high school with. He was on his way to run dogs for Wag and I was lying across his lap, topless. I was feeling torn between Philly and home. It felt like I have two lives.
Maggie was there, talking about running Someone told me my landlord said she has to pay the whole month’s rent even though she’s moving in in August.
I spent time in center city with friends. Two of which were Eamon and [Eamon’s look alike?] who were dressed in shorts with a striped button down tucked in and a black belt. Maybe high socks too. They were two people I hang with but didn’t know of each other, and we all met up and they were dressed exactly alike. It was Eamon and someone who looked like him (1’’ taller with red hair and a beard instead of brown). I think it may have been that guy, Nathan, from LA.
I was staying at Brian’s house and I was just raped. He gave me his grandpa-looking couch to sleep on and was there giving me food and water under the dim, golden window light.
I married someone very willingly and happily. I felt like he was the only person in my life. We were on a honeymoon in this hotel. All of a sudden I realized there’s so much more to life and I was like “oh shit how did I end up in this? How am I married? Didn’t I tell someone just a few days ago that I don’t want to be married for a long time? I’m such a hypocrite. Now I’m married. What about the person I actually love? I can never be with him now? I have to get out of this, but I made a promise-- to be married. I don’t want to be divorced, but I can’t be in this relationship. How do I get out?”
Mark has really long legs, so long that my head only comes up to his hips. It’s the first time I’ve seen him in a while, and I look up to him, both literally and figuratively. We are in a happy, grassy yard, at a picnic. There is green grass and red decorations. Also other people around, but I don’t know who they are. Maybe his family.
Aunt Tammy died. Lindsay was there and we were in this old breaking house. Tammy died one day out of nowhere. No one knew why. Someone (aunt Janet and Dean) came over to help paint the house after she died.
With Mom and Jenna walking on a road with no sidewalk where we witnessed kids a triple school bus accident and a shooting. One man who was an old cop not dressed in uniform was mocking me because I couldn’t do anything to help and said the press was awful. I lied and said I’m a nurse. Then we took the train to Temple and I got out but was afraid of getting hit and afraid to go home.
Vrushabh, Laura, Alex in a dark, weird basement with red lights and green slimy water. Dark. Stairwell. We are in high school and drunk, trying to hide our drinking from elders. Laura is like Mady was in high school— I’m trying to protect her. She also keeps running off for Reed, which is how I end up hanging with Vrushabh at a club. Alex doesn’t believe I drink now, and Vrushabh is the one who forgets the nights with me. I have a crush on him.