Manipulation of Reality in Images


”Alright” by Kelli Connell, 2008 (original)

Thematically, the work of Kelli Connell really resonated with me. Her series of photographs titled Double Life shows one woman interacting with herself “as a representation of social and interior investigations that happen within the mind” [1]. Connell used her images to question sexuality and gender roles, creating “polarities of identity such as the masculine and feminine psyche, the irrational and rational self, the exterior and interior self, the motivated and resigned self […] the dualities of the self” [1]. Specifically, the image “Alright” shows the woman comforting herself in an embrace, and the intimacy of the photograph reflects the internal nature of the situation.

To emulate this image, I continued with the idea of comforting oneself and chose the polarity of identity between confidence and insecurity, something that I personally feel ceaselessly. Just as Connell uses her photographs to question gender and sexuality, I used my photograph to question my self-esteem and determination. Additionally, just as the subject of Connell’s image derives strength from herself, I search for my strength internally.

My interpretation of Connell's "Alright"

My interpretation of Connell’s “Alright” (click to enlarge)


“Parochial” by Anthony Goicolea, 2000 (original)

I also loved the theme that Anthony Goicolea expresses in “Parochial.” In the dormitory of what appears to be a Christian boarding school, young boys engage in mischievous, sacrilegious behaviors that seem to mock Christianity. The scenes in the series You and What Army “are constructed to depict suburban environments in which the cast of characters are seen undertaking painfully awkward transformations as they undergo the journey from childhood to adulthood and the hazy boundaries in between” [2].

My imitation of this photograph takes Goicolea’s concept a step further to question not only Christianity but religion in general. I took the idea of a difficult transition in a conventional environment—adolescence at a boarding school—and changed it to existential wonderings in a traditional home. (A WIN-Gallup poll, “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism,” indicates that religion is a shrinking trend in the US. The number of Americans who identify as “religious” fell from 73% in 2005 to 60% in 2012 [3]. Still, a University of Minnesota poll indicates that atheists are the least-trusted group of Americans, “the new outsiders” [4]. Though “Americans are becoming more tolerant of racial and religious diversity, […] those who aren’t religious fall outside the range of tolerance” [4]. Penny Edgell, associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, “said atheists are scapegoated in ways Catholics, Jews and Communists once were—they are perceived to be on the other side of what Americans view as a symbolic moral boundary” [4].) Taking all of these facts into account, I wanted to create an image that satirized religion in the way that Goicolea mocked Christianity.

My interpretation of Goicolea's "Parochial"

My interpretation of Goicolea’s “Parochial” (click to enlarge)

(Thank you to my wonderful friend Sharylen for allowing herself to be photographed for this image.)


[1] Connell, Kelli. “Statement.” <>.

[2] Anthony Goicolea. “You and What Army Series Statement.” <>.

[3] Winston, Kimberly. “Poll shows atheism on the rise in the U.S.” The Washington Post. 13 August 2012. <>.

[4] Miller, Pamela. “U of M study finds atheists are least trusted.” Star Tribune. 24 March 2006. <>.


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