Beautifully Creepy: Nick Knight's Sleep Portraits

Beautifully Creepy: Nick Knight's Sleep Portraits

Tess Wilson
Mar 23, 2012

In 2001 (as usual, I am so ahead of the trends), photographer Nick Knight invited top models to a hotel. They had their hair, makeup, and nails done, were dressed impeccably, then sent to bed. Their sleep was filmed, and viewers were able to login and watch "as the models' gentle slumber and gradual dishevelment was recorded in a series of intimate stills". I have so many conflicting reactions…

First, the portraits are utterly dreamy and inarguably gorgeous. Second, they are infuriatingly unrealistic. Were the models not allowed to have blankets? I can't sleep without blankets. Were they screened for insomnia? Sleep portraits of me would reveal a lot of tossing & turning, plus plenty of pouting. And since they are models, is it possible they were just pretending to sleep, and doing it really gracefully? Third, I now want to be completely done-up before bed each night. Fourth, though the photos are beautiful, would you really want a picture in your home of a stranger sleeping? That seems weirdly intimate.

Fifthly and finally, this creeps me out fairly seriously. Not half an hour ago, I was reading AnOther Magazine's interview with author/filmmaker Julia Leigh in which she discussed her first film, Sleeping Beauty. While exploring the influences that led her to that film, she mentioned that she'd been having nightmares about being filmed in her sleep. We are incredibly vulnerable in our sleep, so the idea that strangers around the world were watching these models sleeping seems incredibly invasive. Is it the live-action nature of the thing that bothers me? How does it strike you? Innocent or inappropriate?

(Images: Photos by Nick Knight available through SHOWstudio(NSFW) via AnOther Loves.)

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