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Alanna Jankov photography exhibit “2:00 to 7:00 / while you sleep

by Ivy Wigmore

In the wee hours after midnight, most of us are tucked into bed. Those of us in the mainstream, working our day jobs, are resting up from the day before and in preparation for the day to come. While we sleep, though, the night shift—people working the other side of the clock—ticks on throughout the dark hours. Some, like emergency workers and caregivers, are active in those hours of necessity; others, for a myriad of reasons, are up late or early of their own volition. Alanna Jankov had her own unique reason: between February and September of this year, the Charlottetown photographer often sacrificed those precious last hours of sleep to get a peek into that other world and to capture it in images for her show, “2:00 to 7:00 / while you sleep.”

Through those months, Jankov drove all over the Island to photograph the nocturnal counterpart to our workaday world. Some of the shots portray scenes that would almost have fit into last year's show “Heroes—common people, uncommon acts.” In these, we see the people that work to maintain public health and safety or just doing what needs to be done: a farmer delivering a calf; a police officer struggling to maintain the peace; a sleepy paperboy out predawn; the spouse of an invalid giving care through the night.

Then there’s the other side—people out late for fun. Jankov photographed teenagers just wandering the streets in the quiet hours between midnight and morning, talking and hanging out. She shot the graffiti artist, bandanna in place to protect his identity. Her quest took on an almost spy-like quality at times, notably when she was tracking down and getting access to an all-night rave. Times and locations go online to the cognoscenti only shortly before the events as a means of maintaining secrecy. To no avail in this instance. Jankov was in attendance, minivan parked outside, when the police raided.

One of the more disturbing encounters was with a heroin addict. In one image, head down, he’s intent on the needle in his tattooed arm. Jankov said she felt safe visiting him in his home because, as he said himself, he had his dope in him and was feeling good. An encounter any time earlier in the day or night might have put the photographer at risk: in those hours the addict does “whatever it takes” to get the money he needs for his fix. The picture tells the story: a man, whatever his life was and whatever his life might have been, shrunk to this—a life totally consumed with getting and using heroin.

The image captured, the photographer steps away from that world, her task accomplished. Although she’s seen now what goes on on the other side of the clock, her role in that world is only that: to observe and to document for the rest of us what goes on late at night, while we sleep.

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