Public Dreaming: Readers in the World
Photographs by Kevin Rabalais
London, 1940. Three men browse the bombed-out hull of Holland House Library. This photograph testifies at once to a city’s perseverance and also to the necessity of literature. It reveals the reader’s need to plunge into the world of the book, deepening reality in spite of—or because of—the circumstances. People who read in public seek to engage with two authenticities at once. They live simultaneously in their immediate surroundings—the bustling city, the chatter of cafés, the joyous trill of crowded beaches—and the vivid hum and scent of the book itself.
A year ago, keeping in mind that iconic photograph of those three readers in Holland House, and also the work of André Kertész, I began making images of readers. Public Dreaming: Readers in the World contains some of these photographs from Australia, Italy, Spain, Portugal and New Zealand.
Kevin Rabalais, co-editor of the literary website Sacred Trespasses, was born and raised in Louisiana and lives in Melbourne. For his novel, The Landscape of Desire, he received a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist Award. His photographs and journalism have appeared in Brick, Tin House, The Monthly, The Age and Australian Book Review. He can be contacted at sacredtrespasses.com.