Friday, December 18, 2009

COMMON APPLICATION ARTS SUPPLEMENT Photography by Emma Coleman: Utopia

Utopia: The ‘50s

Emma Coleman


            “Utopia” is a term generally applied to a place or community.  In literature, philosophy and even attempts by leaders to create real-life utopias, there is always some critical flaw that, inevitably, leads to destruction.  This imminent doom is by and large due to the imperfect nature of humans.  I find the subject endlessly fascinating.  For my project, however, I chose to approach the term from a different angle.  Rather than operating under the assumption that a utopia is a place, I’ve chosen to view it as a moment in time. 

            My friend Cassie agreed to pose for me as a fabulous woman of the 1950s.  With a few props and some mood music she was transformed. ‘50s Cassie is a successful sports editor for the New York Herald Tribune, a lady of society and, most importantly, the recent bride of Marlon Brando.  While Mrs. Marlon Brando receives an important business call on her fashionable rotary phone, Elvis softly serenades her from the family record player.  Later she lounges on her four-poster, catching up on the most recent Kennedy gossip. Hers is a life I envy, one that, in my mind, is utopic.  However, as with every utopia, truly living it is an impossibility.  The 50s are in the past and Marlon is dead.  Like a world without war or a nation of unicorns and rainbows, it is a fantasy that will forever live in my imagination. 

            I framed the shots using cloth from my grandmother’s old dress (made in the 50s) and stored them in an old hat box along with a few of the props used in the photo shoot.  I like to think of it as a hat box of dreams. 

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