I was commissioned to write this a few years ago for the Central European House of Photography in Bratislava (and thank you to all the photo...
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Photographer Anxiety Dreams: Deny, Deny, Deny!
Off to class I go! Good job I've got my pants on
I like dreams, but not anxiety dreams. They are a pain in the brain, but we all seem to have them and they are always variations on a theme. I remember when my daughter was about six months old, I dreamt about where we lived; it was the upstairs bar of a pub and my daughter was crawling around on the floor. We had a Christmas tree. It sat in a bowl of acid for some reason. It was a very dry tree so of course it had candles. There were electric lights as well but no plug; bare wires were stuck into the socket instead.
Photographer anxiety dreams are pretty basic. In the days of film, it was the old film that doesn't wind on dream. Or the film gets lost, or it all turns out blurred. Or it could be your lens falls off (and that has other interpretations), or the batteries go, or someone starts kicking up shit about you photographing. Digital anxiety dreams are nowhere near as interesting. The camera becomes secondary and it all revolves around laptops, hard drives and wi-fi. And I am sure there are many, many more depending on what gear you use or how challenging your work is. Technological failure and fear of discovery loom large in dreamworld.
Writer's anxiety dreams? Lost papers, lost files, Sysyphian writing, a never-ending edit, getting your facts hopelessly wrong, missing a year on your deadline and getting discovered for the imposter that you undoubtedly are.
I asked a gallerist about anxiety dreams and he reeled them off most effortlessly; leaving the door to the gallery open and someone strolling in off the street and nicking all your art. Or leaving the paintings out in the rain overnight. Don't do that. And of course the imposter thing gets multiple look ins.
I remember when I used to teach ESOL students, I'd get the same anxiety dreams at the start of every term. I'd wouldn't find the room, I wouldn't have my trousers on, there'd be a fight, I'd have a nightmare class. That kind of thing. The funny thing was, I once had a first class that was exactly like the dream (apart from the trousers) only worse.
My wife works in the voluntary sector. The voluntary sector anxiety dream is incredibly dull mainly because with this UK government your anxieties are reality on a daily basis. Not completing your annual monitoring form is pretty much as good as it gets.
And then there's the big one, the psychoanalyst's anxiety dream. You'd guess it would be something like the couch collapsing, or Freud popping in the room and judging you, or the transference going too far and you getting caught with the sex-addict patient. But when I asked an analyst, they completely swerved the question and all the options I offered them. Deny, Deny, Deny!