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2021 SPE Annual Conference: Imagining Legacy: Archives, Collections, and Memoria

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Bridget Murphy Milligan

SPE Member since 1999
Member Chapter: Midwest

Reality Tales

Reality Tales is collection of images that are based on the lessons we learned from the familiar stories that once fueled our imaginations as children, and perhaps continues to influence us as adults. Thematic similarities within fairy tales often involve concepts of love, happiness, wealth, and the quest for moral fortitude. These stories employ notions of both the macabre and the idyllic to exemplify the complexity of human relationships and cultural strife. In many cultures, fairy tales are as much constructs of real-life experiences as they are about happy-ever-after endings. However, for better or worse, contemporary social perspectives often work to negate the darker truths within these dynamics, and propagated by the profit margins of the media, promote glossy interpretations instead of truthful analysis.
Given these inherent tensions, one might ask if the relationship between reality and fairy tales is closer than one might imagine. And if it is, who is the modern-day prince charming, what clues do we use to remind us of our origins, and what characters do we look to for guidance? By reinventing scenes of familiar fairy tales and then photographing them, I reference complex, culturally embedded messages in an effort to generate new visual portrayals of a more tangible and darker reality. For me, the resulting images exist somewhere between our greatest fantasies and worst fears.


Out of the Woods

Go Round

Happily Never After


Once Upon A Mattress

Lost and Found

The Triumph

The Guardian

The Quest

Secrets and Lies

Telling Tales

The Rescue

She Wolf

The Bachelorette

We All Fall Down

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