Photo Friday with Olivia Johnston
In this series 13-18, Olivia Johnston focuses on boys in those in between teenage years. This project became a bit of an anthrolopological search along the way. As the artist describes the series,
“Questions have emerged in my mind about the nature of boys. This group of humans, while in reality not so distant from myself, have always seemed a different species entirely. Specifically, those who have passed boyhood but are dipping their toes into the waters of manhood, travelling through a treacherous part of life: teenagers.”
Photography can be a way to explore, to measure and turn reality into a quantitative recording. In this way, Johnston uses her camera to investigate the other.
“As a woman, I will never understand men the way I fundamentally understand women; this creates a kind of curiosity that lends itself to photography. I approach teenage boys now with a touch of hindsight and a healthy dose of curiosity. What was invisible or different about the boys around me when my vision was coloured by my own teenage inhibitions?”
This series was divided in two. One half, featured above, showed the boys in the studio setting. The other half showed their bedrooms. Johnston describes the images of their rooms as more of a portrait than their actual portraits. The bedrooms reveal character, and the portraits do so in a different way. As Johnston describes,
“By placing each boy in a totally unfamiliar environment and asking him to remove his shirt I create a well-defined set of discomforts. Asking him if I can enter his bedroom and document it with my camera elicits added tension. These photographs are representations of vulnerability in every sense, and this vulnerability is tangible here. These images represent a space where boys are permitted to be vulnerable, to feel emotional, lonely, weak, afraid. However, they also allow for the viewer, and the image-maker, to feel all of those things.”