Bizarre or trending subjects? Catch a break with our curiosity of the week. Do you remember your nightmares? Jolien De Buyser has been writing down each of her dreams since her childhood. She captured them in Orphic, a surreal and dark series.

Jolien De Buyser, a 22-year-old Belgian photographer specialising in fine art, discovered photography when she was a teenager. Immediately, the medium started fascinating her, through its ability to tell a whole story with a single image. “My work contains unanswered riddles, stories that leave the beginning and the end to one’s imagination”, the artist explains. Dark and mysterious, Orphic’s visual creations invite the dream world into reality.

“Around the age of 7, I had what I think was my first nightmare, Jolien De Buyser recalls. Since then, I’ve been writing down and making sketches of my dreams.” A strange habit she considers essential. After this first episode, many followed, frightening the young girl. “And then at one point, I had a dream of wolves living under my bed and protecting me”, she tells us. A defining moment which helped her get over her fear. Yet, she kept writing her sleepy memories, filling pages and pages of fantastic and symbolic stories. “I’ve gathered all of my dreams of the past two years and decided to photograph 18 of them, by visualising memories of my dreams, I concentrated an elusive world into one moment”, she says.

Revealing her secret

Whether grim or absurd, Jolien De Buyser’s dreamy imagery is fascinating. Inspired by the interpretation of dreams, the artist staged difficult scenes – a strange and enthralling therapy. “The most ‘straight to the face’ pictures are actually the ones holding the least symbols”, she tells us. Among the collection of dreamy creations, however, are some surreal scenes. “The photo of the girl vacuuming the beach was inspired by a dream about a person who pretended to be my friend. In my journal, I had simply written down ‘you gave me this wilted flower and tried to convince me it was alive’”, the photographer says. How to capture this artificial friendship? Which actions could be deemed completely useless? Thus, was born this absurd image.

Another picture, featuring a flying jacket on a beach, symbolises the loss her grandfather, who drowned. “He owned a small boat and always wore this jacket when he was going fishing”, she explains. In her dream, the artist pictured an empty harbor, an eerie space where life had been replaced by silence. “Coats of what were once souls where floating everywhere”, she adds. A tragic dream, pushing her to write down: “I know you’re gone, but I can still see you”, as she woke up. Those intimate and painful narratives form a troubling confession – the artist’s only chance to reveal her secret to an audience. A collection of precious small format pictures, inviting the viewer to penetrate a strange universe, like Alice going down the rabbit hole. “Seeing the image isn’t enough for me. I wanted people to look”, the photographer says. An introspective and fascinating work.

© Jolien De Buyser