Not Awake Not Asleep is a modern horror story.
People disappear, murderers walk free, uncertain friendships are briefly forged, often with shocking results.
In the spirit of noir crime, this series of images from Australian artist Stuart Spence weaves a torrid tale of lethal mistakes, trust and deception, and deep intrigue.
Originally devised as a film piece for Sydney's legendary photo/film festival, Cross Projections, Not Awake Not Asleep stands as testimony to consummate, if not disturbing, storytelling.
With Ivan we are transported back to that grim crime scene, to the forest south of Sydney, Australia, from 1992. The tangle of trunks hint at the tormented mind behind the backpacker murders, Karen Kwan Is Missing only adding to the narrative. As the innocuous man in blue from I Have Done Wrong walks into the desert, do we find ourselves witnessing the simple, calculated escape of a cold-blooded killer?
Who weeps in Shanghai, and for what or whom? Does she cry for the cowboy from Think Of Gary Cooper? How are they involved in this story, and more importantly what might they have done to bring it down to more dreadful lows?
Stuart Spence asks questions, suggests plot lines, takes them away again, offers red herrings (what does The Great Gatsby have to do with this, in Jay and Daisy?), reminds us that crime stories, strange, brutal ones, are not necessarily the confines of novels and the screen. With Not Awake Not Asleep, the artist speaks to the amateur detective, the conspiracy theorist, the jaded cop in all of us, he seems to demand we untangle the mess and find a way out of this dark and hungry forest.