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Better in the Dark than His Rider
by Francesco Merlini

80 pages
23,5 x 31 cm

Offset UV

Published by Depart pour l'Image

Text by Luca Reffo

First edition of 1000 - July 2023
Second edition of 1200 - November 2023

Born out of a reflection on the nature of images and their nocturnal vocation, Better in the Dark than His Rider is both a fable and a survival guide. The collected work by Francesco Merlini spans different years, possibly quite distant from one other; shot in all four continents, his pictures reveal the unique perspective of someone who, like a sleepwalker guided by ghosts, seeks for something nameless. The title is drawn, almost literally, from a 19th century manual of optics. The original sentence – “[…] much better in the dark than his rider” – refers to a horse’s night vision compared to a human’s. 

The selected sequence of pictures unravels around the transitional stage between wakefulness and sleep, engaging with hypnagogia as a sensory yet dreamlike mode of semiconscious representation. Images make up mind’s psychic contents. If in dreams self-consciousness is suspended and images look real to the extent that we are sleeping, when dozing we can consciously guide them because partially aware that we are dreaming. Stated otherwise, in lucid dreams we know we are faced with the contents of our imagination, whose edges appear hallucinatory. Dreaming is a perpetual state we do experience both asleep and awake. Thanks to imagination, the dream matter turns into the mind’s real object again.

Read more about Better in the Dark than His Rider on:

American Suburb X



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Il Fotografo

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Dodho Magazine

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Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson - Book of the Month - September 2023
PHotoESPANA Best Photography Book of the Year - Finalist

Belfast Photo Festival Photo-book Open Call - Winner
Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards 2024 - Shortlisted
LensCulture  - Favorite Photobooks of 2023
Photobookstore – Best Photobooks of 2023: Vanessa Winship

Volumes Award 2023 - Nomination

PhMuseum - Five Books Not To Miss At Arles Book Fair 2023

PHotoEspana, Madrid, Spain
Belfast Photo Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Kraszna-Krausz Foundation at Photo London

Volumes 2023, Zentralwäscherei, Zurich, Switzerland

Human x Nature, Charta Festival 2023, Rome, Italy

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