Michael Allin is 22 years old and thinks too much.
MOSSLESS: Your mentor was Tina Barney. How was your experience with her?
MICHAEL ALLIN: It was great. I have to admit I was pretty overwhelmed when I met her. It is always intimidating meeting someone you admire especially when they are critiquing your personal work. She seemed to pick up on my intentions fairly quickly. I suppose when you’ve spent your career photographing your family and loved ones you can understand the thought process of someone doing a project with similar subject matter. The most valuable thing I got out of my mentorship, besides the critiques and conversation, was her encouraging me to show my family my work. I was avoiding showing my work to my family out of fear and Tina could tell that it was emotionally weighing me down but my family responded to it really well. It was much easier continuing my project after that.
ML: Can you tell me something about the work you exhibited?
MA: The images I included in the Mentor Show are from a project entitled, Cathexis. Over the course of two years I photographed my family in an attempt to examine my understanding of sexuality and personal relationships. Society has a tendency to compartmentalize gender roles in order to understand them. This work questions that understanding and gives permission to escape it. The study of personal relationships was a result of how I photographed my family. Because I put my family in extremely performative and intimate situations there seems to be a disconnect between the viewer and the model. The juxtaposition between proximity and uncertainty was fitting for the subject matter. How many times have you felt unable to fully connect with someone you loved?
As for the images incorporated in the show, I limited my edit to just photographs of my father. I wanted my images to compliment each other, aesthetically and emotionally. I thought that these two images represented my project fairly well. I feel there is a tension between the two photographs, a push and pull of anonymity and intimacy, masculinity and feminity.
ML: What has your most memorable moment been at SVA?
MA: During one of my first critics at SVA my teacher, Marcia Lippman, referred to my work as “slop shit”. It was the first time someone was truly honest about what they thought about my work and, in a way, it encouraged me to work harder. For that, she will always have my respect.
ML: What are you going to be doing this summer and onwards?
MA: I plan to work in publications, hopefully, as an assistant photo editor. I’m going to keep pursuing my own photography but I have to buy my own 4x5 first…