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Photographer Nicolas Bruno’s Haunting Visions of Sleep Paralysis

Nicolas Bruno - cutting communication

Nicolas Bruno is a photographer who composes surreal scenes based on his experiences with sleep paralysis, a rare phenomenon that renders an individual immobilized in a hallucinatory state between dreams and awakening. In an interview with VICE, Bruno describes sleep paralysis as an experience of “purgatory,” a floating, liminal state that, for him, is inhabited by eerie hooded figures. In many of his photographs—all of which are brilliantly composed, like stages of an elaborate psychodrama—Bruno is the model, acting out his own visions of drowning, entrapment, and being hunted. By recreating his nightmares, Bruno gains a form of agency over these terrifying experiences. The result is a series of symbolic images that resonate with us on a visceral level, embodying the raw experiences of fear and the will to survive.

Nicolas Bruno - cannon

Nicolas Bruno - mannequins

Nicolas Bruno - torment, hands

Nicolas Bruno - sinking ladder

Nicolas Bruno - sinking ladder with shrouded figures

Nicolas Bruno - painting covering face

Nicolas Bruno - burning bed

Nicolas Bruno - solitary figure

Nicolas Bruno - running away

Nicolas Bruno - draped figure

Images © Nicolas Bruno

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