Em Sieler (b.1999, they/them) is a digital and lens-based visual artist living and working in New York. They currently study Visual Arts and Computer Science at Columbia University.

Artist Statement

Through my photographic work, I aim to use the camera as a tool for claiming ownership of my image. This element of my practice operates as a reaction to the violence of viewing and being viewed, and the consequent performance of the self. My work aims to reclaim the portrayal of the self in opposition to the society’s idea of what bodies, stories, and emotions are deemed acceptable enough to occupy both physical and digital spaces. Using my body as a medium in the form of performance and self portraiture, I resist the disembodiment of surveillance in a digital era, and desire to connect with my physical self to discover what remains in the absence of society. I am particularly interested in the performance of the self through social media and the feedback response of digital spaces.

I aim to interrogate the meaning of photography in the nascent attention economy and the opposition of the self as social currency across digital landscapes. 

Journal xx/xx/2020

Welcome to my therapy journal. I write in here everyday to process all the crazy thoughts swirling around in my head, to try and slow them down for a minute so I can breathe. It’s the journal of a 21 year old woman, living in NYC, fucking around, finding myself, and trying to have a little fun.

I can’t photograph the inside of my mind, so I let the emotions take over and just shoot. If I stop to think, I’ll never be able to keep going. When I shoot self-portraits, I get closer and closer to finding “myself,” but I haven’t found a single truth -- I am many things at once. I’m depressed and happy and horny and not in the mood and angry and hate life and love life so much and sometimes I have good days or hours or minutes and sometimes I want to evaporate into dust. 

I took a year off school to work on my mental health, and everyone looked at my Instagram and wrote shit like: “omg gorgeous!” “love it” “looks like so much fun!!” (it was not fun). I hate Instagram, and it makes me hate myself.

Fuck them. I won’t perform for anyone’s pleasure -- I’m taking mine back. I want to cum first, demand what I want, I won’t shave my body hair or starve to be skinny or satisfy the male gaze. I want to love and be loved, and I need to be known deeply, in the lowest moments I hide in the dark and the triumphs I show to the world.

I’m doing better now, after LOTS of therapy (I’ll probably try to tell you to go to therapy, I love that shit -- it saved me), but everyday is a fight. Against the anxiety and depression, against the voices in my head and the ones outside it screaming YOU’RE NOT ENOUGH.

Everyday, I answer:


© EM SIELER 2020