Emma Phillips // Salt

Photographer, Emma Phillips is showing her series, Salt at Edmund Pearce Gallery in Melbourne this month, as well as launching her new book.

The show is running with a quote from City of Salt by Richard Selesnick & Nicholas Kahn. What is it about their work that initially gave way to this concept?

I became interested in K&S after seeing a film that documented their project The Apollo Prophecies. The peculiarity of their sets fascinated me and when I happened upon this salt mine on the Nullabor Plain it felt similar and yet naturally occurring. I really admire their work.

The opening is partially in celebration of a book that you have recently finished with the same body of work? How can we get our hands on that and can you tell us more about it?

The book will be available soon from Perimeter Books in Melbourne, they have a website where you can buy all their stuff. I shot the whole project in a couple of hours and knew straight away that it was going to be a book. It just took me a while to figure out the best way to do it.

Most of the Salt images don’t look real. How were you able to achieve that slightly otherworldly look?

The images are all shot on film and are pretty true to form. It felt like another world. I framed shots to enhance the scale in an attempt to capture the feeling of endlessness out there.

Where is this place and why have I never been there?

It’s in the Australian desert. And you’re American.

You used to live in New York. Do you prefer working in Melbourne as an artist?

Well I guess there’s less distractions in Melbourne and it’s a lot easier to get by on less money. I didn’t get much done in New York, was just living. But I also sort of figured out what I liked and what I hated and I was able to see the scope of a lot of artistic practices, just by being there and not really making much effort either way. It’s so quiet in Melbourne that it would have been really difficult to figure all that stuff out had I not moved away. There’s really not much difference but I made a lot of great friends in New York.

You worked with Annie Leibovitz for a while, what was that like?

It was great, I really figured out what hard work was all about.

Do you have any interesting stories from that time?

Not really. The catering was always a delight though.

You also write poetry, are you just as passionate about writing as you are about taking photos?

I wouldn’t say that I write poetry, as such. But writing is as much a form of self expression as taking photos, and is so for lots of people. Its just not a public art form for me like photography is.

You were recently in Japan. What were you doing over there?

I’d met some people in Malaysia who invited me to come along to the Tokyo Art Book Fair. So I made a little book and went along. Got some nice vintage shopping in while I was there.

What is the artistic community like in Tokyo?


Any other projects that you are currently working on?

I’ve got some things lined up for next year. The Impossible Project has asked me to do a book of 8×10 Polaroid shots, so that’s first off the rank.

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Salt is showing at Edmund Pearce Gallery until Dec 21
37 Swanston Street (corner Flinders Lane)
Melbourne Victoria 3000 

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