“Sleep Machines came to me in a dream, as an image,” says photographer and model Remy Holwick of her new photography book, “I worked backwards into this body of work, removing personalities from human bodies and littering Venice Beach with the forms.”
For her first publishing endeavour, courtesy of NYC-based Paradigm Publishing, Holwick returned to native Venice Beach, California. With a cast that includes the photographer’s close friends, dancers and professional models, Sleep Machines portrays the organic dimension where the organic human body and nature meet.
“I was asleep in bed in my studio in Los Angeles, and had a vivid dream of a pile of sleeping bodies on an empty beach,” Howick tells us, explaining the subconscious origin of the project. The photographer’s fondness for Venice Beach, aside from being her hometown, feeds back to her family’s older generations – it’s where her father, painter Wayne Holwick, as well as many of her other family and friends, have created a lot of their work. “I like it picking up in one symbolic sense where my family left off – it was a long process artistically to get to a point where I was comfortable as a photographer, because I started out as an artist with painting and drawing, but I feel like I’d forever compare myself to my dad and it made it difficult to make any work that felt honest,” she says. “[Working in] Venice beach felt like a nod to, yes, this is where I come from, but here is my own way to handle it, and my own way to interpret it, and it’s really mine, not a derivative.”
In keeping with her penchant for film photography, Holwick decided to shoot Sleep Machines entirely in black and white, an approach that removes all colour variance in order to focus more on tone. “Black and white has a heritage, specifically in terms of Bill Brandt’s work with form in nature, that I really looked to when creating this,” she says. “Some of what I do is a specific nod to how he removes humanity from his human forms, and really collapses them into being part of the surrounding nature.”
“Venice beach felt like a nod to, yes, this is where I come from, but here is my own way to handle it, and my own way to interpret it, and it’s really mine, not a derivative”
While a monochrome palette has been recurrent in Holwick’s work, Sleep Machines takes on a more introspective and confident approach than her previous series. The intimate images, which never show the models’ faces, reflect Holwick’s intent of stripping the bodies of their ego, intention, and personality, leaving them in inanimate poses with the sole touch of the sand. “The result is organic form pressed against organic form, hopefully blurring the lines between the edge of what’s human and the beginning of what’s nature, because they’re the same,” she says.
This idea of physicality and form is something that Holwick will continue to explore in her next series, Reason To Believe, which she shot in Joshua Tree this summer. Building on Sleep Machines, the upcoming project will focus on the relationship between the body and a person’s personality. “In Reason To Believe, the people are awake and the ego is there, but it’s being examined in it’s various relationships to the body, which is still married to the ground.”