The Surrealistic Pillow Project

Jul 18, 2012
Photographer Spotlight

Ronen Goldman is a conceptual photographer based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Drawn to the visually surreal, he’s spent the last five years turning his passion for dreamlike images into a unique personal project named The Surrealistic Pillow Project.

A man fending off an attack of apples

Ronen’s surreal project began when he first started to record his dreams five years ago. He would wake in the middle of the night to scribble down the visions he’d just experienced. Then, he would conceptualize one image from each dream that represented it’s theme. Once his concepts were set, he’d get to work on the ardous process of producing and executing mind-bending imagery. Of the project Ronen says,

I’ve always been intrigued by the “unseen” part of the world. So much seems to be known scientifically nowadays, that “mystery” is hard to come by. But on the other hand, there are so many things we don’t know, or fully understand—like what dreams are, or what they mean. I decided to try and harness the medium of photography to portray these dreams and apparitions that cannot be put into words. Photography works so well for this—things look real, but they cannot possibly be happening. Or can they?

A man controlling a gust of playing cards

For Ronen, remembering his dreams wasn’t the tricky part, it was bringing them to life that brought the challenge—”the hard part is once you do remember, you try and figure out what’s the atmosphere needed in order to convey that fleeting idea or sensation felt while dreaming.”

The project’s been quite fun for Ronen, who’s greatly enjoyed bringing his dreamscapes to life. He’s even gotten some friends involved as well, such as in the the lizard shoot. Ronen explains, “I had to convince my friend, well, to get into bed with a lizard. She did it like a true hero, until the iguana started crawling towards her. She did not like that.”

A woman in bed with several iguanas

His favorite image so far though is “We Were Meant for Each Other”, a photo depicting a man and a woman holding hands and feeding each other’s fishbowl heads,

Beyond the fact that it came out exactly how I visualized, it means a lot to me. My long-time girlfriend and I are getting married this year, and I felt the image really portrays the place where our relationship is. Much like dreams, I don’t always fully understand what I “meant” to convey in certain images—sometimes I only realize the meaning years after they’ve been created. But in this case, I knew exactly what was going on, and it came out great.

People with fishbowl heads

Ronen has been overwhelmed by the response he’s received from the images, saying it’s been “really amazing.” He’s been invited to lecture about the project at a Spanish convention and the photos have been exhibited in galleries in Israel, Belgium, Germany, England and Spain. He plans to continue the project saying that “I get better with time and understand more fully what interests me. I’ve learned that no matter how far fetched, if you can visualize it, you can create it. With each photo, I try to push things further and deeper—photographically and conceptually. I love it.”

View more of Ronen’s work on

– Maria Luci