27 May 2021

The Darkness of the Self, the Boltholes of our Minds

27 May 2021 - Written by Colin Pantall

In 2015, Yurian Quintanas Nobel began photographing within the confines of his home. Dream Moons is a diary of that self-imposed confinement, a psychogeographical tour through the doors, stairways, and spaces of the house, a book where his home serves as a map for his mind.

Dream Moons comes in a red slipcover. It’s a great kind of red, not quite fire engine or Marlboro red, but warmer with a touch of orange in there, it’s a wonderful colour. It’s red printed on a thick paper cover as so many photobooks are these days. The paper cover is cheaper for a start, and there is something very non-functional about a casebound photobook.

The cover design has an illustration of a head with scaffolding all around it, the scaffolding supporting a built structure that corresponds to the brain. And inside the brain, amidst all the gears and pulleys and floes, there is a moon. It is, I guess, a Dream Moon. And it waxes and wanes and we know this because there below the head are seven small symbols showing this waxing and waning.

The cover looks great and it smells great too. The ink sits on the paper and its perfume seeps out, completely chemical, but sweet with acetate undertones, the kind of thing you’d give your kids to suck if Monsanto made candies. It smells good!

The inside of the cover tells you what the book is about in seven short passages that match the seven waxings and wanings of the moon. The first one reads like this:

‘1. A FULL MOON was watching me in my sleep, but I could not see her in my dream. She travelled through the spaces to pull me into her world. She found me alone and caught me and caught me unprepared.’

It’s a love story then, about meeting somebody and losing yourself in their soul and becoming somebody new. That somebody might be the moon, or it might be somebody else, we can only guess – but the suggestion is made and as there is a female figure in the book, we can make it a real-life love story. I like love stories, they make everything better.

All the images are made within the confines of Nobel’s apartment. Dream Moons is about the darkness of the self, the boltholes of our minds where we sometimes enter but cannot leave, the memories that scar us, the dreams that become another labyrinthine trap for our thoughts to enter and never leave. The apartment serves as a metaphor for our unconscious, a dreamscape onto which Nobel can project the imaginings of his mind.

The book begins with an image of a bright globe rising above slated rooftops, of light rippling on undrawn curtains. The images are unnerving in their softness, but are mixed with harder images of the domestic uncanny; there’s the heel of a foot, an invisible tilting flower pot, an empty sleeve reaching towards a pile of breadcrumbs and a spiders web.

We navigate through the apartment, an apartment that is seemingly inhabited by some kind of poltergeist. A bent fork, tarnished and misshapen, a stairway, windows covered in mesh, a coat on a bannister suggest strange powers, new arrivals, and a sense of confinement. Visual pathways are made and then blocked. There are body parts, a woman curled naked into a ball as though falling, and a giant bag floating like ectoplasm above a basic kitchen table. It is like Clare Strand has come to stay. We are truly in the land of the possessed.

Within the four walls of the apartment, phantasms appear, they are reflected in a mirror, a fleeting glimpse of something concrete. There is a tilting pile of books held up by the gravity of the photograph, there is a spectral presence and there is a cat looking up at it. Splattered walls, darkness on the floor hint at past lives, at the places where things have entered. It’s a diary of a relationship which might be real, imagined or something entirely different; a diary of a relationship with himself, with the woman who appears in the book, with the house, or with photography. Or perhaps it’s all those things at the same time.


All photos © Yurian Quintanas Nobel, from his series and book Dream Moons


Dream Moons by Yurian Quintanas Nobel

Published by Void in 2021

Limited Edition of 500 copies // Silkscreen softcover

23,3 x 30,4 cm // 96 Pages



Yurian Quintanas Nobel was born in Amsterdam and is currently based in Catalonia. In his work, he explores the limits of reality and fiction where the medium of photography becomes the means through which he approaches the hidden sides of things and the mysteries that surround him. Follow him on Instagram.

Colin Pantall is a photographer, writer and lecturer based in Bath, England. His latest book, All Quiet on the Home Front, focuses on family, fatherhood and the landscape. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Written by

Colin Pantall

Reading time

5 minutes