Making Nightmares Come To Life

Photography is not just a medium for documenting realities. It can also be used to stage surreal images. Photographer Arthur Tress took the latter approach in the late 60’s and early 70’s when he created a photo series titled “Daymares”. The project started out as simply photographing local children playing in parks along Manhattan’s waterfront area. Then, Tress was invited to a children’s educational workshop where the students were making paintings based on their dreams. This inspired him to talk to children about their nightmares and recreate the scenarios in photographs. The results offer a haunting glimpse into the imagination of a child.

Child Buried In The Sand, Coney Island 1968

Child Buried In The Sand, Coney Island 1968

Boy With Root Hands, New York, 1971

Boy With Root Hands, New York, 1971

Tress has stated that “the purpose of these dream photographs is to show how the child’s creative imagination is constantly transforming his existence into magical symbols for unexpressed states of feeling or being.”

Flood Dream, Ocean City, New Jersey 1971

Flood Dream, Ocean City, New Jersey 1971

Boy In The Snow, New York 1970

Boy In The Snow, New York 1970

More photos from “Daymares”, as well as work from throughout his career, can be seen at his website.

Additional Sources:

By Grace Hetfield

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