Interview by Abby Sun

Alene is a Senior concentrating in Psychology, with a secondary field in VES. This fall she took Chris Killip’s Intermediate Class: The Photographic Portrait. Previously, she took Chris Killip’s Intro class and Sharon Harper’s Intermediate class.

Abby Sun: Can you tell me about your project?

Alene Anello: I am photographing people and other animals. It started out
because I wanted to photograph animals and the class I’m taking is a
portrait class, “The Photographic Portrait” with Chris Killip. And he
said “no” because portraits should have people. I kept taking photos of
animals anyways. One class, I didn’t have time to take photos so I
brought in photos that I took of my friends from the summer, and he
really liked them. That finally convinced me to take photos of people
instead of animals. As soon as he succeeded in convincing me to take
photos of people instead of animals, he changed his mind. And I like
the idea of having people and animals together because people are
animals. We have a lot in common with other animals. And I wish
people would accept that more, instead of trying to pretend that
people are separate from other animals.

AS: Does this work have any connection to your previous work with
femininity and identity?

AA: I really like photos of guys in feminine form, I don’t know why. I
guess it’s just kind of unexpected.

AS: So your project is in book form. How did you decide how to order
your photos?

AA: Well, I got input from a lot of people, and tried to think about
pairs that I think went really well together. Then, once I had all
my pictures in pairs, I started thinking about what order I
wanted the photos to be in, and which photos were the best pairs.

So these [first two photos are of a girl in a gray dress and a gray
pigeon] both are somebody wearing gray, and they both look like
they’re trying to be sexy. Maybe not sexy, but pretty.

AS: Why are some of the pairs both of people and not a person and an animal?

AA: I wanted to make it less overt than just “here’s a person, here’s
an animal.” And part of the reason is it seems more a mockery if it was
always paired a person and an animal. Sometimes having people and
people, and animals and animals, it seems more to me like we’re all
included in the same group.

AS: Some of them are playful.

AA: I think a lot of them are more serious alone, but when you put
them together they’re less serious. Maybe they lose something. When I
originally took this picture, I thought the dog was expressive and sad
looking, and I thought that looked nice. On their own, they’re more
sympathetic. Together, they just want to make me laugh.

AS: Your project is about how people are like animals. Is
this a sympathetic world view?

AA: Yes. A lot of people think it’s okay to torture animals, and they
think that animals can’t feel pain. And even if they do, it’s okay.
Science indicates that animals can feel pain, and the way we raise
them for food causes them a lot of pain. So if people see how much
animals are like us, then they may become more sympathetic.

AS: So maybe it shouldn’t be titled “Us Animals” — how do you flip that?

AA: “Animals Us.” Chris showed me this book, and in the book there
was this story of a man named Dhotsua, a Cherokee who fought against
expanding oil companies. “I am very proud of us,” says the dying man
to his cousin, to which the latter responds: “Do you mean us the
warrior society or us Cherokee?” No, he answers, “I mean us mammals.”
So that’s where I got the idea for the title.


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