the photographer living in children’s nightmares

All children dream. In dreams, the worlds through which we pass by are not always gentle. Sometimes they are hellish due to their incomprehensibility. Other times, delusional due to their probability. Arthur Tress is always there to portray dreams from within them.

Children with plant roots in their hands, children emerging from the mud with thir cracked soul, children with hiding with a rifle in the TV cabinet, children who have been victims of ashes, children who would not object to cutting you up with their hockey stick…

Tress, was born in 1940, he knows all these kids and works for them as a mediator between this world and the other side, the panic side.

   © ArthurTress   © ArthurTress

Adult fear is polymorphic but organized by years of education, civility, social and professional relations, alcohol and drugs… The child, who has no responsability, is uneven, rough, rude and wicked like a spider in the hunting process. Where the adult fears anxiety, the child fears a worm. Where the adult fears overspending or eviction, the child fears horror. Adult fear is a civil war, a terrorist attack… While child fear is a psychopath mother, a cannibal horse, a house without a door…

Tress, who started as an advertising photographer, warned what children dreamed about when the dream was twisted during a photography workshop for kids he gave more than fifty years ago.
“Lets take a picture to explain the last nightmare of each one”, he  suggested his students not knowing their answers would change his life. When the kids spoke, he knew he had found a new country: the dark side of children’s dreams.

© ArthurTress   © ArthurTress   © ArthurTress

“You’ll never find a place like this one traveling around the world. I had to recreate them all and I became a weirdo since this started around 1970: all photographers by then were crazy about wandering around the streets and I was the only one taking dramatized pictures. I was looking for mythic and archetypal, nightmarish images. It became my trademark for twenty years: surreal and disturbing pictures”, says Tress.

I’m not attributing the American photographer the character of a demiurge, but I certainly like the plausible onirism that he gives, near the poetic horror and alienized to the intervention of psychoanalysis.

Kids shot down by a carousel horse, children shackled by the effigy of a crow or crushed by a giant ball…

Other photographers have explored the theater of the child mind –such like Ralph Eugene Meatyard‘s masked and shady children (warning: creepy)– but Tress has been able to show the blade on which our children live, the snake which nests on the childhood’s altar.

Relevant documentary:

More info on Tress:
Compilation of articles on Arthur Tress in


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