We’ve seen the kind of visual narratives that the night inspires, whether it’s a town’s vibrant alter-ego, a city’s pervading darkness, or the slow celestial dance of the night sky. In yet another stirring tale, set in the ungodly hours of nighttime, Sydney-based photographer Jonathan May invites us to join him as he follows the journey of a sleepwalker named Yuri.
Whether real or imagined, Yuri, the titular somnambulist, has quite a story behind his sleepy exploits. According to Jonathan, Yuri has dedicated his life to his country, wanting to be of service to mother Russia from an early age. His military prowess apparently earned him the opportunity to rise in position from a commander of a motorized rifle platoon to the senior officer of a military operations department in Afghanistan.
What follows is the part where Yuri’s tale takes a sharp turn, as Jonathan suggests that the zealous soldier could be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yuri began sleepwalking upon returning home from service. In the beginning, his wife Natasha would find him standing in the dark, always in the exact place in the hallway, facing the front door and mumbling to himself. Eventually, Yuri began venturing out of the house and Natasha would be woken by calls from neighbors, asking her to collect him from their front yard.
In the next part of Yuri’s tale, Jonathan takes his cue as the chronicler of these nighttime escapes. When Yuri began traveling as part of his job in the government, it becomes impossible for him to curb this trance-like state. Ironically, his wife also finds herself sleepless with worry. What if his colleagues discover his condition? What if something terrible happens when he’s out sleepwalking?
Armed with an eye for dramatic settings, moody colors, and a strong narrative technique, Jonathan roams Yuri’s imaginary hometown, capturing locations where the somnambulist must have walked to, and what he could have seen if he was somehow jolted awake from his adventures. Likewise, it could even be Natasha’s nighttime stroll, enslaved by insomnia and distress while her sleepwalking husband is away.
This is the beauty of Jonathan’s moody photo story, one we are definitely tucking into our favorite nighttime tales in the form of gripping photography.