From "Sit Tibi Terra Levis" © Emily Allen
Photographer Emily Allen ’22 talks with F-Stop
magazine about her inspirations, creative practice, and current project “Sit Tibi Terra Levis,” which originated as her Senior Project and was recently featured in the magazine. “With this portfolio, I hope to draw attention to photography as a process and an object and its humanity–its connection to death, to life, and to memory,” said Allen, who studied photography, classics, and medieval studies at Bard. “I used the techniques we use to attempt to preserve ourselves throughout history to preserve my images.” The photographic prints in her book were created using processes humans have historically used on our bodies after death. Some were brushed with oil according to ancient Greek rites, others soaked in honey as the Babylonians did, some were processed in simulation of modern American chemical embalming, and others incompletely fixed so they continue to degrade and decompose over time. In this project, Allen was fascinated by the kinds of similarities and subversions these processes had when used on photographs versus on our bodies.
Self Portrait © Emily Allen
When looking at images, Allen doesn’t have one strict definition of what a photograph can be, rather she looks for resonance. “Literally the word photograph means ‘light drawing’–to me anything made using light sensitive materials and light is a photograph whether it is representative of our physical world or not . . . A good photograph convinces me of the reality in the world within the boundaries of the paper–I have to believe in it. I love when photographs feel like bubbles, each containing their own little universe,” she says.