Erica Allen: 2009 WIP–LTI/Lightside Materials Grant Recipient


Untitled Gentlemen
Untitled Gentlemen is a series of fictional portraits created using anonymous faces from contemporary barbershop hairstyle posters, combined with figures from discarded studio photographs. 

Through interventions in these found photographs, this work explores representations and constructions of identity in portraiture, while appropriating value to images and individuals who are otherwise overlooked.

Existing between the real and artificial, these images subvert the meaning and expectations of the traditional studio portrait, creating an unknown narrative and expressive ambiguity in an unexpected context. 

Once primarily functional photographs, these barbershop portraits become unusually candid and vulnerable representations of masculinity.  Adopting new identities while remaining anonymous, these new portraits are known only by the hairstyle number found on the original poster.

I am interested in shifting the frame of how we encounter and interpret images to investigate the meaning and construction of the photograph. This series encourages the viewer to reflect upon ideas of representation and projections of identity in photography. 

Erica Allen is a Brooklyn based artist originally from Oakland, California. She received her MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts. Awards for her work also include the Aaron Siskind Scholarship, Daylight Photo Awards Juror’s choice and residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been featured in the Visual Arts Journal, Photograph, The New Yorker, Marie Claire, Outlook, PDN, Zing and Esopus magazine. She has exhibited at The Center for Fine Art Photography, The Camera Club of New York, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, with the Humble Arts Foundation and Higher Pictures. Untitled Gentlemen is included in the Beinecke Library collection at Yale University. She more here.