Project Oneiric

Eight photographers were given a team and a word: Oneiric. With that word in mind, each photographer was responsible for creating just one image, all in the same location. Photographers, stylists, hair stylists and makeup artists from Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati converged on THE ICEHOUSE in downtown Louisville to execute their vision.

“Holden’s Dream”

It’s very interesting how inspiration works sometimes. How, under the right circumstances, an everyday thing can make a spark that ignites an inferno. In this case it was a coffee shop, a song from the 90’s and a 60 year old book.

When I started researching the word “oneiric”, I found out that it is often associated with the dreamlike qualities of cinema. At the time, I happened to be in a coffee shop where The Smashing Pumpkin’s song “Tonight, Tonight” was playing in the background. I was completely enamored with the video for this song as a teenager. The aesthetic of it harkens back to turn-of-the-century stage productions and silent films that utilized primitive set pieces and props; giving it a very fantastic yet authentic feeling. It always made me feel like I could have been sitting in a theater on Broadway in the early 1900’s watching the latest play, and that look seemed to me a perfect metaphor for dreams; existing somewhere in between reality and fantasy.

The next image my mind threw at me was a carousel horse. I attribute this to the fact that I had just a couple of days prior watched a documentary about J.D. Salinger, the author of one of my favorite books and ultimate inspiration for the content of this piece: “The Catcher in the Rye”. In the book, our protagonist, Holden, has a fantasy about being in a field of rye where children are playing a game. He is standing at the edge of the field near a cliff and acting as a catcher who rescues the children before they tumble off of the precipice. Holden is a very intelligent, yet extremely jaded young man who looks upon the world of adults as superficial and phony. So the fantasy represents his desire to save the children from a loss of innocence that occurs when one falls off of the cliff of adolescence and into the abyss of adulthood.

Another central character to the story of “The Catcher in the Rye” is Holden’s younger sister, Phoebe. He feels as though she is the only one who really listens to him and understands him. Described as intelligent beyond her years, neat, and a wonderful dancer, Phoebe also seems to be the only one who can stand up to Holden and criticize his overly simplistic view of the world and judgments of others. Near the end of the book a scene plays out in which Holden is going to run away from home for good but changes his mind when Phoebe shows up wanting to tag along. He instead takes her to a park and buys a ticket for her to ride a carousel. Holden is moved close to tears by his happiness at watching his sister on the ride and doesn’t even mind that it starts to rain heavily. This scene has been widely interpreted as evidence that Phoebe knows she is Holden’s rock and that she knew he would not go if she insisted on coming with. In essence, she rescued him instead of the other way around.

So with “Holden’s Dream” I imagined a new fantasy in which the children are replaced with Phoebe herself. But instead of being in need of rescuing, she is grown up, powerful and elegant, but still retaining a sense of whimsy and childlike wonder. It’s her way of assuring her world-weary brother that things aren’t so dreary and that adulthood doesn’t have to result in one becoming a “phony”.