In her latest series Swallow The Tail, photographer Elizabeth Hibbard addresses how pain and uncertainty manifest between various states of being: physical and psychological, intimacy and isolation, consumption and expulsion, desire and revulsion.
Hibbard’s photographs are dark and swathed in inelegant natural light that captures and accentuates her state of unease, often peering through windows, doors and other structures in the home environment. They’re staged, and on one level bring to mind the 90s to early 2000s narrative photography of Gregory Crewdson, Anna Gaskell and Charlie White, but with more anxiety and less theatre.
They look at how the construction of female identity may go deeper than external cultural and social forces, cycling into internal family dynamics. In one picture, shot at a voyeuristic angle through a bedroom doorway, Hibbard’s mother lays in bed, sewing hypnotically. It feels like a cryptic riff on a Norman Rockwell painting – a concerned look into a casual, repetitive, everyday routine. In another, Hibbard leans into her mother's arms while her mother peels a sheet of dead skin from her back. The pictures are loaded with these states of embrace, mimicry, consolation and confusion.
I spoke with Hibbard about her work, influence, and how Yale – where she’s currently working on her MFA fits into it all.
Jon Feinstein in conversation with Elizabeth Hibbard