Listening to someone’s dreams is rarely an engaging activity. The Covid-19 lockdown, however, has dictated new rules on entertainment, social interaction, and creativity. Across the globe, people in quarantine are reporting that their dreams are vivid like never before, a change experts credit to a lack of outside stimulation, mixed with creeping, long-term anxiety that the brain still struggles to process.
Lithuanian photographer Neringa Rekasiute and a filmmaker Elvina Nevardauskaite are among those embracing the trend to create their own short — Quarantine Dreams — on people’s nighttime experiences during lockdown. “Dreams are a record of our experiences, fears, or hopes, and can be analysed from a cultural or social perspective, not just as individual stories,” Rekasiute explains. “What can these dreams tell about the society we live in? Do people undergoing similar experiences also share similar dreams? These are the questions we wanted to explore.”
Rekasiute is already well-known for her projects delving into societal issues. Some of her previous work includes a series of male nudes, where models were covered in flowers in Flowering Masculinity, or sensitive portraits of young Lithuanian men drafted into the military for the series They Won The Lottery.
Rekasiute began collecting dreams while writing a sociology research paper back in 2015. At the time however, she couldn’t find a narrative to unite them. “When Covid-19 pandemic began, the same idea came back to me, and I realised that the whole world was living under similar conditions. Societies were being framed by the same regulations. That was the factor bringing the dreams together,” she says. “I asked people to send me their dreams and later, film director Elvina [Nevardauskaite] suggested we make it into a movie.”
In the film, real life characters talk about their own dreams and interpret them in the light of an ongoing quarantine in Lithuania. “Dreams here melt into the current reality and gain a new sociological context,” Rekasiute says. “We underappreciate dreams, so I was looking to encourage people to dive into their inner world and read the signs their subconscious mind sends. That helps us to better comprehend the time we live in, as individuals and as a society.”
Shooting a movie while adhereing the social distancing rules proved to be a creative challenge. “Elvina [Nevardauskaite] and I discussed the details of the project via Zoom or phone. The shoot itself was carried out by Elvina alone, but we constantly kept in touch and discussed possible solutions on set. When it came to shooting, she would leave the disinfected microphone by the door of a participant and meet them through a window. There was no time for any courtesies or small talk, but the distance added confidence and intimacy, so they opened up and relaxed a little easier,” Rekasiute says.
Rekasiute herself has found the lock-down period inspiring and liberating. “Being at home, pausing for a moment, and having time to calm down reminds me of my childhood,” she says. “I now finally have time to observe and get amazed by the world, domestic duties, learn supposedly useless things, or bake, simply because I feel like it. I have had time to rest and flourish since all my obligations were suddenly gone. There was no fear that I was missing out [on something in the outside world].”