Allen Frame

Allen Frame

Abigail Cohen Rome Prize
September 11, 2017–July 27, 2018
Profession
Photographer, New York
Adjunct Professor, Department of Fine Arts, Pratt Institute
Project title
Portraits in Roman Gardens
Project description

I propose to make evocative portraits in the private and public gardens of Rome and surrounding towns. My previous work has included portrait studies in intimate situations—in rooms of the subjects’ homes or hotel rooms. I propose in Rome to depict the figures outdoors, locating them in gardens where there is a sense of privacy in their experience of nature. I think of the context as a portrait situation, neither staged nor posed. The observed figures are usually alone, depicted in a psychological or contemplative mood. My photographs have often been compared to film stills. The compositions are somewhat formal and stylized, but taken from reality. A specific narrative is never intended, even though title information, including names and places, grounds the visually theatrical in a non-fictive experience. I don’t consider that I am making documentary work, but the work I do is heavily influenced by the personal documentary tradition, which often challenged the photographer to react quickly and sensitively to the passing moment and immediate circumstances. Still, I acknowledge the cinematic mingling of my subjectivity and memory with the objective reality of the scene and situation I’m photographing. The work is autobiographical in a sense, depicting subjects who are often connected to my life, including friends and other artists, while also recalling experiences of my personal history. The images describe a state of mind and a landscape of memory, hinting at narrative. Italy is a primary source for me, (from Caravaggio to Antonioni) and returning there to extend my series of portraits would provide an opportunity to work in locations charged with meaningful associations. Being able to spend a year in Rome concentrating on this series, researching locations and identifying subjects, would be a hugely inspiring opportunity.