The Live Creature and Ethereal Things, 2007
Archival Digital Print, Dimensions Variable
The Live Creature and Ethereal Things Images by Tealia Ellis RitterThe specific genesis of, The Live Creature and Ethereal Things, was my family’s move to suburban Chicago. I found myself an outsider in a town where I knew no one. This created in me a heightened awareness of how I looked and how people looked at me. I began to experience a conscious and constant feeling of being on display.The images chronicle the people that pass in and out of my daily life, including both friends and family, but are primarily comprised of strangers I approach on the street. My interests lie in exploring, in both a physical and emotional sense, the ways in which people choose to present themselves, and their environment, when they know they are going to be on display. Specifically focusing on the nature of longing, vulnerability, self-consciousness and image as a construction. As a culture now in the age of facebook and social networking, we are aware of our projected selves in a new way and the methods by which photographs can be used to shape people’s perceptions. Stylistically, the images are inspired by European society portraits, which similarly to the modern facebook page, present an idealized version of the individual and convey a sense of the sitter as part of a tableau created to be examined. There exists simultaneously the person that we are and the person we want to be, our self-presentation often dealing more with aspirations than reality. Each subject is allowed to dress in any way they would like and choose a setting they feel comfortable in, but the final image is a negotiation between my vision of the individual and the image of themselves they are working to project. At the end of the photo session, I give each subject the opportunity to write down a dream, although they are not required to do so. The dream statements allow for a parallel declaration to be made solely by the subjects, in the form of words rather than through their image. The meaning of “dream” is left up to the subjects to determine.