Ferdinando Scianna released a collection of images of sleepers in 1997, and revealed he had been exploring the mystery of sleep and dreams for more than 30 years. His poetic black & white portraits of sleepers – whether found in nests of hay while farming, unforgiving city pavements, or within the comforts of another’s arms – all reflect the photographer’s fascination with the private journeys we take in our dream state.

A photograph offers the opportunity to isolate a fleeting moment in life, but Scianna points out that he is capturing a portion of our lives that are “essentially motionless, but not stopped,” explaining, “Here time in the photographer’s life intersects with time in the sleeper’s life, the same, yet different.”

I practice a kind of photography of the moment that generates form, and of the form that reveals the moment and perhaps also its meaning

Ferdinando Scianna
© Ferdinando Scianna | Magnum Photos

Ferdinando Scianna started taking photographs in the 1960s while studying literature, philosophy and art history at the University of Palermo. It was then that he began to photograph the Sicilian people systematically. After moving to Milan in 1966 he worked as a photographer then journalist, writing on politics and on photography and literature.

He entered the field of fashion photography in the late 1980s, producing pioneering work that brought fashion into the streets of his home of Sicily. Scianna has also explored the subject of religious rituals and photographed across Italy, America and beyond, as well as collaborating with famous writers such as Leonardo Sciascia. He joined Magnum Photos in 1982.

© Ferdinando Scianna | Magnum Photos

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