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Sleep Walking | by Jen Kiaba
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Sleep Walking

This is an image that's been living in my mind for several weeks now, though it had to be shot several times as something kept being lost in translation.

 

I knew that I wanted to speak to purity ideology and the long term effects that had on my sense of self, but my original attempts fell short.

 

The previous shots had looked more like a dance, but for me this image is about a sleep walking state that I often fell into internally, whether from trauma or a self-abusive state of mind.

 

Perhaps a better word would be "dissociated." We were taught to repress our feelings as a way of focusing on what was pure and holy. For me it would mean losing my internal compass and sense of self.

 

Leaving any kind of abusive background requires picking up the pieces and beginning to assimilate into a new life. But old habits and patterns can follow you for years, and there are times where I still find myself reverting back to that old sleepwalking state of being.

 

Feeling your feelings, after years of repression, can be like a rush of emotions all clamoring to be heard first. It's overwhelming, even terrifying at times. Repression feels like a seductive reprieve.

 

And that is why I take these photos and write about them. It keeps me from swallowing it all back down and going numb when something hurts or I need to process.

 

Delicious catharsis and relief. Mmmmm...

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Taken on July 17, 2014