Comfort Zone: People Sleeping At The Beach in Tadao Cern’s Project
Lithuanian photographer Tadao Cern discreetly photographed people holidaying at the beach when they were not trying to hide their imperfections - in their sleep.
While I was spending a weekend at the seaside, I’d decided to visit a public beach that I hadn’t seen since I was a little boy. There I saw a possibility to recite a lot of stories only from looking at the things that people bring with them. I’ve got so inspired that I had to quit what I was doing at the time and indulge in this new project.
I started this series because I was surprised how a certain place or surrounding can affect people’s behavior. During our everyday life we attempt to hide our deficiencies, both physical and psychological. However, once we find ourselves on a beach – we forget about everything and start acting in an absolutely different manner. Is that because everyone else around you is doing the same? If yes, I would love it if the same rules were applied beyond the borders of the beach – people would care less about what others may think about them. I believe that this in turn would show how different, interesting and beautiful we truly are.
These photos are not staged and people did not suspect that they were photographed by me.
It is only about the seaside, sun-bathing and holiday drowsiness. I chose to showcase only the photos with hidden faces not by an accident, but to grant an observer with an opportunity to calmly scrutinize each and every detail without being distracted. It also helps to avoid empathy or a connection between people in the photos and the observers. It really does not matter who they are – the details not only reveal their stories, but make us face ourselves as well.
My favorite piece is the one with the two ladies – it was my first shot and from the moment I saw it, I was convinced that I must finish this project no matter what. Even though the process was stressful and frustrating, today I can finally say that I am really happy with the end result that turned into a collection of 24 large scale prints. The images that can be seen on the Internet are only a part of it and I hope that a chance will present itself for everyone to discover all of them during the exhibitions.
Did anyone got angry? Well, actually to my surprise, I got the opposite response. You are not allowed to take pictures of children under 18 year old without their parents’ permission. I wanted to take a picture of a child on a silver blanket, so I approached his parents, explained the situation, showed some pictures of the project and they really liked the idea so they gave me permission. I get many comments about how wrong it looks for some people – but my usual response is asking “why isn’t it wrong to see a naked African child in National Geographic magazine?”. Oh, those double standards.
Later she gave a print to him as a Christmas present, which he really liked and hung in his bedroom.
Is looking at people sleeping like being a voyeur? No, not really. My only goal was to document everything and not sneak around, take pictures and keep them for myself. I was doing that for the viewers to raise some questions about our behavior and societal habits. Seeing that these photos raise so many discussions prove that it was worth it.