Berlin-based Sophia Emmerich, is an award-winning photographer and film maker whose art focuses on queer representation and challenging beauty stereotypes. We got to sit down with her earlier this month and ask about her process, and why queer representation in art is so important.
Tell us a bit about your own personal journey...
My personal journey could be described as a bumpy ride including roundabouts and detours. When I started taking photos and shooting videos as a teenager, I just wanted to capture the world around me not knowing it was possible to actually work as an artist. After moving to Berlin ten years ago I found myself lost in a big city not really knowing what I wanted from life. So I started studying law, since it seemed like a responsible thing to do and therefore dedicated years towards reaching a profession I always knew I would never love. By the time I realised that all I wanted to do was pick up a camera and capture the people around me, to tell their stories, to show the world their beauty, I had just graduated from law school. It took me a long time to actually make the jump and quit my job, but looking back now it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Having a legal background still plays into my work today. I’m passionate about the things I believe in, I want equal rights for everyone, I want my creative work to have an impact and to put humans in the centre of it.
Talk us through your artistic style.
I find it rather difficult to talk about my artistic style, since I sometimes wonder if I have found “my style” yet. For me talking about “my style” is a bit like putting a label on it, which makes it seem so definitive. I want it to be an ever changing, ever evolving thing. But one thing hopefully will never change, my art comes from a place of love, respect and curiosity.
Why is representation so important for LGBTQ+ people?
It sounds so cheesy, but for me representation is everything. It’s powerful and necessary to show that we are all part of this society. Being part of the queer community I know what it feels like growing up not seeing people like me in the media. When I think back I wish I had have seen more queer people being celebrated because sometimes you have to see it in order to believe that it could be your future. I want queer people, especially young queer people, to see themselves represented in an authentic and honest way. Because honest representation is not a performative act, but a true expression of admiration.
How are you addressing that in these works?
In June of this year I had a conversation with a friend talking about pink washing. What does it mean? How can we prevent it from happening? Are we doing it ourselves even? And the one question that came up over and over again was “What does authentic representation of the queer community look like?”. Since our community is diverse in itself of course there wasn’t only one answer. The only logical solution to me was to start asking queer people what their thoughts on representation were. I want people to tell their own stories and show the diversity within the queer community. Because when it comes to authentic representation there is no one-fits-all solutions.
You can check out more videos from Sophia's project on her website or social channels.