Juror’s Pick, Work-in-Process Prize
“Erica Allen’s photographs lay somewhere between witnessing and voyeurism. The portraits seem to reflect men in intimate moments of contemplation while they also appear to be on display. These qualities perfectly illustrate Roland Barthes notion of the ‘punctum,’ which allows the viewer to see a part of his- or herself in the subject of a photograph. As this body of images grows, I hope that Allen will continue to find and create images that fall along this delicate thread without breaking it.”
—Hank Willis Thomas
This series of fictional portraits was created by combining anonymous faces from contemporary barbershop hairstyle posters with figures from discarded studio photographs.
Through interventions with found photographs, this work explores representation and construction of identity in portraiture, and values images and individuals who are otherwise overlooked.
These images, existing between the real and artificial, subvert the meaning and expectations of the traditional studio portrait, creating an unknown narrative and expressive ambiguity in an unexpected context.
I am interested in shifting the frame of how we encounter and interpret images to investigate the meaning and construction of the photographic image. This work aims to encourage the viewer to reflect upon his or her own interpretation and projection of identity in the photograph.