The Sleep of the Beloved: Long-Exposure Photos of Couples Asleep

“What happens to lovers while they are sleeping?” asks German artist and photographer Paul Schneggenburger. “Are they alseep next to each other, each on his own, or is there a sharing of certain places or emotions? Is it a nocturnal lovers’ dance, maybe a kind of unaware performed tenderness, or does one turn their back on each other?”

Have you ever wondered what type of interactions couples had at night while asleep side-by-side?

Paul Schneggenburger currently has an on-going project dedicated to capturing how couples shift and reposition themselves during their hours of slumber.

Schneggenburger set up a make-shift bedroom within his live-in studio and was able to document the wide range of physical intimacy that takes place within a six-hour period. He constructed a trigger outside of the room for the 4×5 camera and turned it off automatically before the sun came up.

Throughout the night, from the hours of midnight to 6:00am, couples can be seen both sleeping alongside each other as a solitary act, as well as coming together – making it an intimate experience.

It all started out as an academic art project and has since found its way into an exhibition called The Sleep of the Beloved, which opened this week in Vienna at the Anzenberger Gallery. The exhibition features some beautiful photographs exposing the lively interactions of various sleeping partners.

Just as we cannot always remember our dreams upon waking in the morning, it is very rare that we’ll recall the movements of our bodies while asleep.

The unconscious closeness and intimacy that can be seen in the photographs is quite lovely and haunting. They may even make you view your relationship in a whole new light.

Photo credit: Paul Schneggenburger