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Oneiroi: Dreams and Their Kinship with Death


Photographer Lika Banshoya captures her subjects as they fall asleep and creating images that evoke death and divine prophecies.

In Greek mythology, the Oneiroi are personified deities from specific types of dreams. It is thought that they dwelled in the coasts of the western seas. True dreams, prophetic ones, exit through a horn door, while tricky dreams exit through an ivory door. In this group, the most important character is Morpheus; a god that appeared in the dreams of kings disguised as a man and delivered messages from the gods. The photographer Lika Banshoya borrows this myth, which she adopts as the name of her series of evocative photographs, to depict the world of the sleeping.

Woman sleeping with arms crossed on chest.Male shrouded in mist with arms crossed.

Oneiroi portrays several people as they slowly slide into their slumber. Banshoya creates a link between this state and the idea of death —as we can see in some of the positions adopted by the sleepers— and the concept of the end of life as an eternal dream. The photographer captures the subjects at home so that the result can be genuine and intimate, almost like a short ritual that watches over the dreams of the sleepers while they see themselves from within the mirror.

Woman sleeping face down shrouded in mist.Woman sleeping with arms crossed on chest.

In black and white, and with images of skies superimposed over them, the pictures portray the oneiric state clearly, while they also evoke another dimension that resembles death while those portrayed are actually alive. The subjects are suspended in Morpheus’ arms, in a granny and leaden dream that is perhaps prophetic and made of horn, or perhaps this is merely a story made of wishes narrated by one of the Oneiroi’s immortalized as a stamp.

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