Emily Sheffer

Emily Sheffer (b. 1993) earned her BFA in Photography with Departmental Honors from The Massachusetts College of Art and Design in May of 2015. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at San Francisco Camerawork Gallery, All Visual Boston at the Institute of Contemporary Art, and in The Danforth Art Museum New England Photography Biennial, where she received a Juror’s Award. Emily was recently listed as a LensCulture Top 50 Emerging Photographer of 2015. She currently works as a fine art photographer and studio assistant in Boston, MA. Her work focuses on an exploration of self-perception within an meditative domestic interior. Today we share her series, The Old World.




The Old World

I make photographs in an attempt to understand the disorienting duality of the self – the random
bubbling up of the mysterious unconscious into the strict reality of the conscious. Unyielding, the
conscious constantly remains in the forefront of the waking mind, while, in subterfuge, the
unconscious rules behind a thick curtain of mystery.

Self-portraits reveal solitude and stillness of time. It is impossible to place the subject in any
certain reality. There is no specific time or place, only a dazed and fragmented mirror world. The
subject appears calm on the surface – an idealized and romanticized view of the self. But, deeper
inspection reveals a tension below the surface.

A bucolic view of an underlying uneasy natural world, the quiet turbulence of a
domestic space that is frozen in time, the daze of self-reflection trapped within the day dream, and the
locked mysteries of the place-less landscape of dreams and unconscious create a world apart – one
that allows for the constant search of the unseen.

The sun lets me know what time it is.
Streaming through my bedroom windows, it urges me awake.
My face presses into the warm pillow, but the morning light is merciless in its persistence.

For a few moments my mind is briefly ruled by two tyrants
the ethereal unconscious of the sleeping world
and the unrelenting conscious of the waking life.

When the two sides meet in these seconds,
I become momentarily suspended,
like a fetus patiently waiting to be born,
both a part of and not yet a part of the physical world.

Eyes still closed,
fragments of last night’s dreams instantly begin to escape me,
floating into some unreachable depth
with little hope of being recovered.

Incredibly vivid at the time, they now only exist as fleeting impressions.

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To view more of Emilys work please visit her website.