How do you photograph fear? Fear in the sense that it materializes as preoccupations about the unknown; recurring fragmented scenes that appear in one’s dreams or blurry reality. Something that isn’t there but exists in intuition. Aji Susanto Anom, Indonesia-based photographer, brings viewers to examine the nature of inner horror in his psychologically stimulating photo series, Recollecting Dreams.
Recollecting Dreams consists of arresting black and white images of religious objects, barely-recognizable faces and gloomy scenes that are seemingly unrelated yet it navigates a theme that seeks to find answers in those dark and mysterious domains. The strong contrasts between light and dark highlight his subjects and provoke an undeniable intense feeling of irrational fear. One example is the hair-raising photo of a man or a woman’s eye looking straight at you in the dark. It definitely leaves one’s psyche disturbed.
The photo series sketches Aji’s attempt to find an emotional escape. Leaving his hometown to live in another city to study profoundly affected his life and existence. “A lot of answers came out but nothing is clear. I found that one of the reasons I created this project is I have a lot of déjà vu experience. I discovered that my reality and dreams collide till I question them whenever I found myself in a dream or in real life.”
What draws Aji Susanto Anom to photograph surreal and dark subjects is his childhood fear of darkness and ghosts that wander around in the night told by his family. “My imagination goes wild when the sun goes down,” he said. But generally, he takes inspiration from his own life experiences – what he feels, sees and hears. “I found that photography’s biggest power is to give me the courage to confront my fears, to see the darkness clearly and embrace my fears.”