Perceptual Isolation

Kat Bawden

2020 - Ongoing

Chicago, Illinois, United States

This series is inspired by my sleep disorder, sleep paralysis, which causes hallucinatory dreams that often replay a traumatic memory from my adolescence. This memory was repressed for almost 20 years, and I struggle to understand it. During these nightmares, I’m physically paralyzed and can’t move or wake myself up. Afterward, it’s hard to tell what was real and what wasn’t. During times when my nightmares are more frequent and intense, I live in a fugue state suspended between dream and reality, between forgetting and remembering.

In these photographs, I try to capture the sense of suspension between waking and sleeping as a visual metaphor for consciousness and the processing of trauma. My intention with this series is to create an immersive visual world that mirrors my internal one, and pull the viewer in as a participant, in order to explore the mysterious depths of the mind and traumatic memory.

I am currently developing this project into a book and an exhibition of both photographs and multi-channel video installations as I pursue my MFA in photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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