Photographer Nicolas Bruno’s Haunting Visions of Sleep Paralysis

Nicolas Bruno - cutting communication
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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
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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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Hayley Evans is a freelance writer and editor hailing from Montréal. Her affinity is with the written word and anything that is dark, beautiful, erotic, or strange. Follow the author @ and view more articles.