They say every picture tells a story (Well, Rod Stewart certainly sang that anyway) and as I look at these faces looking back at me, all bleary-eyed and bushy tailed, I had to wonder what their story was.
Strangers to me, yet like me, they had decided to take part in this most unusual exhibit: guests of the Circus Berlin and participants of the “I had a dream” exhibit, created by Berlin-based photographer Rob Wilde.
Before we began, of course, we were all fascinated and excited by the concept: capturing that beautiful, intimate and groggy moment, in between dreams, where we leave one so-called reality to awaken in another and arise in waking life, but naturally we had to ask: would people take part and allow us into their worlds and what would be their motives for doing so?
I imagine everybody’s reasons are different, but I certainly knew why I wanted to take part. After a particularly challenging year, 2017 for me has been a time of magnificent transformation, at 31 years old, I finally feel settled in myself, shaking off that feeling that the great philosopher Britney Spears summed up so well: not a girl, not yet a woman. I knew I could feel the difference, but I wanted to see if I could mark the change on my face, like the Chinese do when reading faces, with their features and lines. Or like Forest Gump does when he’s reading shoes. I wanted to see where I had been and where I was going and with this opportunity being offered by Rob and the Circus, it meant I could get up close and personal with myself and also bottle and keep the moment like some sort of time capsule-come-trophy.
The experience itself, both before and after, captured the beautiful hybrid between feeling total vulnerability and total empowerment. This really goes beyond the whole #nomakeupselfie movement when it comes exposing who you actually think you see when you look in the mirror each morning and the face you choose to show the world.
When I received the images it was a mix of emotions but fascinating to view:
No makeup. Blurry eyes and 31. My face. I could trace every wrinkle from too many laughs, tears and parties. I could study damage from each sun-soaked road trip and the carelessness of youth. I had to remind myself to love every monthly occurring hormonal blemish and subsequent scar. It forced me to understand that I must accept and love it all and remember that I had both never been so old, and would never be as young again as I had in that very moment. And that in itself was incredibly liberating.
When I asked Rob for his thoughts on the experience, he was as equally introspective and humbled as me: “That was really one of the most touching projects I’ve ever done, I really feel like something good happened here.
Thank you, Sophie, Oliver, Julia, Rowena, Shanna, Stephan, Timnah and Laura, it was such a great experience getting to know you, to talk to you and to photograph you – especially in that moment of first waking up. That’s really something special.”
Of course, I am curious what was the motivation for each of my fellow sleepers, but perhaps that is part of the fun, as mysterious as the very act of sleeping and dreaming itself, we can look upon their portraits and wonder…
All guests who took part in the “I had a dream” shoot will receive a 10×15 portrait printout and we are excited to host their portraits as part of a small exhibition later in the year at the Circus Hotel.