Tulsa is a recent a body of work that examines my hometown. Returning from Chicago, I felt just enough on the outside to gain a new perspective of life here. As I looked at Tulsa with a fresh gaze, my aunt began to lose her eyesight, and entered a damaging relationship with a man. I started the project by photographing them, but the tensions at the heart of their world were ones that I sensed elsewhere, and I was inspired to photograph other family members, friends, and strangers. Here, I am conscious of Larry Clark’s Tulsa. Yet whereas Clark evokes the notion that “death is more perfect than life,” my series is a meditation on a city in motion, a people searching for life—its anxieties and its pleasures. It investigates labor and intimacy, and asks how people persevere and realize their desire to thrive in a difficult landscape.
All I Want
All I Want explores the push and pull of intimacy and the awkwardness of desire. The portraits play with and examine the fantasies, obsessions, myths, and stereotypes about longing. I am drawn to the ways our bodies tell stories of confidence, self-consciousness, and humility. I look at rituals of adornment and gesture—the ways we create and display ourselves for others and define ourselves based on how desirable we think others find us. The images I capture in All I Want recreate and document the innocence and complexity of my subjects, questioning the intricacies of sexuality that are undefined, and even celebrate this ambiguity.
We ask the everlasting question, “Who am I?” while realizing the absurdity and challenge of figuring out the answer. Utilizing our separate upbringings in Oklahoma and Estonia, we collaborate here on a series of dual self portraits incorporating set-up fantasies, real behaviors, and improvisational moments. The photographs focus on our coming of age—rebellious, romantic, and fearful of the end. We are simultaneously the anxious girls in front of the camera and the conscientious adults making the pictures.