Tetiana, 62, of Khomutyntsi village in Ukraine's Vinnytsia region: My friend and I were at a resort in western Ukraine and we had tickets for a concert by Svyatoslav Vakarchuk [a famous Ukrainian rock musician]. We packed our things and tried to get to the town where the concert would happen. We arrived and it was empty: There was no public transportation; the streets were completely empty. We saw some police officers and asked them how to get to the venue so we wouldn’t be late for the concert, but the police told us there was no transportation. (Oksana Parafeniuk) Anastasiia, 23, Kremenchuk, Poltava region, Ukraine: About two days after I found out about the first person who got sick with covid-19 in my town, I had a dream that felt very realistic. I was lying quietly on my bed and talking to my mom. I suddenly felt all the symptoms of this virus, one after another. First the fever, then the cough and after that a very severe shortness of breath. I didn't know what to do or where to run. I understood that now my family is in danger and if I go to the hospital then other patients will also be there. I felt a terrible responsibility for many lives simultaneously. And because of this great stress, my shortness of breath only increased. Everything around me was weighing down on me. I didn't know what choice to make: Die now or put others at risk. (Oksana Parafeniuk)
We can’t control what we dream. Maybe that’s why dreams can come with such potency in times like these, when we feel so powerless.
Dreams, even the most surreal, often have some nod to reality. A room we know. A street we walk. An old friend. The work of Oksana Parafeniuk, a photographer in Kyiv, Ukraine, peers into this keyhole. She sees a place inhabited by a dream version of an unsettled world gripped by pandemic.
Parafeniuk asked people to share dreams they’ve had during quarantine, having been inspired by her own vivid dreams. While walking within the confines of her neighborhood and following social distancing requirements, she created this series of multiple-exposure images to bring those dreams to life.
Oksana Parafeniuk is an independent photographer based in Kyiv, Ukraine
Steven, 41, Kyiv: I dreamed that my brother and sister and I were watching our parents’ house from above and a car came and parked in the yard that was a 1970s Peugeot. It was white, and we knew that in that car were people who wanted to kill our parents, but our parents seemed very relaxed: They were lying on the sofa reading books, watching TV, drinking wine, having a nice time, and whoever was in the car didn't get out of the car. It just stayed there, parked in their yard. (Oksana Parafeniuk) Veronika, 29, Kyiv: Since the beginning of quarantine and the travel ban, I started to dream often that I was in a rush to go somewhere. I was always on my way to the airport, but at the last moment I missed my plane or I didn't have the necessary documents to board. One day I dreamed that I was riding on a tram, with many people around. I knew I needed to go to the airport, but then I realized that I had neither my luggage nor documents. But it was too late — a crowd of people trapped me in a tram going straight to the terminal. People carried me out and there I was at the terminal. The queue carried me further and further to the border, and I had no documents. I was terribly worried. I was late for the plane. (Oksana Parafeniuk) Marichka, 34, Kyiv: I live in a village near a church. In the evening, I asked my neighbors whether they would bless their Easter cakes at the church, because I wanted to take pictures. People said yes. I set my alarm for 5 a.m., because it usually happens at dawn. Then I fell asleep and dreamed all night that I can’t manage to get to church. It was one of those very unpleasant dreams where you are looking for pants but not finding them. I looked out the window, and the priest and the choir were already leaving the church to meet the people with candles in their baskets. I ran to grab my camera but couldn’t find it. I looked out of the window again, and the bells were ringing already, which means they started blessing. Then I tried to find a mask since I remembered I can’t go there without a mask. Finally, I ran to the church. The sun was already shining, and the children's choirs were already leaving. I noticed that the leaders of the church choirs were quickly trying to get away, so I couldn’t photograph anything. It was as if they knew that they sinned by gathering so many people during a pandemic, but it was clear that they and the priest were satisfied with themselves, and I was very upset that I did not have time to take a picture and I had no evidence of their religious crime. When I woke up, I looked out of the window, but there was nobody near the church and the door was closed. (Oksana Parafeniuk) Tetiana, 36, London: My dream is about returning home. This dream often haunts me after my father died while I was in the U.S. I didn't have time to say goodbye to him. I often see him in my dreams. I had a dream that I was going to my neighborhood Southern Borshchagivka, the district in Kyiv where I grew up. I was walking near the 12th department store that for some reason had been converted to a movie theater. This was so unusual — a movie theater in our department store? My father always met me in this area, and then we would go to our apartment building together. I was already thinking about how to buy tickets so we could go and watch a movie together when I realized that everything is closed due to the pandemic. The door was locked and I was trying to find where I could buy the last ticket, and I didn’t want to believe the show was canceled due to some virus. (Oksana Parafeniuk) Daria, 36, Kyiv: I had a dream that people, all wearing masks, were walking in a huge crowd, since public transportation doesn’t operate. They were trying to start a revolution and overthrow the government. All of them were silent, with more and more people joining the crowd. They were all wearing medical masks made of black fabric. It was very similar to the movie “V for Vendetta.” (Oksana Parafeniuk) Olena, 30, Vyshgorod, Kyiv region, Ukraine: I dreamed about my ex-boyfriend. We talked in the dream, about everything. In the last dream, we were in an indoor pool. I swam while he sat on a deck chair. I woke up feeling like I was suffocating, after seeing in the dream that I was drowning. I think this is because the quarantine situation is very similar to the situation in Donetsk in the spring of 2014, when everything was closed and we were afraid to walk around. Back then it was possible to run away, but now there is nowhere to run. (Oksana Parafeniuk)
In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff members and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.
More on In Sight:
Covid-19 is causing problems even in Antarctica, as this photographer found out
Restricted by the covid-19 pandemic, this photographer is creating an intensely personal ‘Quarantine Ballad.’
This photographer shows how the covid-19 pandemic has changed life in one Virginia neighborhood