There’s Nan Goldin and Larry Clark on the wall. Somehow you made it out of the 1990s of film cameras, records and typewriters and now are staring at sterile chrome of post-millennium, high-speed CPU’s. You envision reaching your hand into the grainy world of “Kids,” or photo of girl you one were at fourteen, spitting water at camera lens. The world you know warps under social, cultural and political shift – boys are not just boys anymore and girls are not just girls. Changes take a tire iron to rusting cyclone fences that have stood too long, but you hardly understand what you want or fear. Remember, you were fearless once – learned to assert yourself before you knew what you were doing by Iggy Pop’s swagger. Name this “act” parents and teachers repeatedly demand but you have no better idea than them. PUNK ROCK. Voyeurs say “radical” and teachers –“dress your age.” One round of detention – you kiss your middle finger goodnight. Adults punish you – “FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU” then – stand silently behind the crack in your door, watching ravenously, jealous of your unwrinkled skin : drugged on Roxys and weed, 2AM in your bedroom strumming guitar and flipping through fashion magazines, pleading your thighs to look a bit more like Kate Moss. Give the glossy pages a dash of you, and they’ll give you everything. Photos on walls – you choking under top button on blouse, standing next to mum and dad’s fabricated for-the-crowd smile. Lesson between “love” and “like” is unforgiving one. You haven’t seen the world yet. You cautiously extend senses through late-night television and phone chats with music store clerk who has two kids. You’re sixteen, and he wants to be you, wants you, like Nabokov’s character following little Lolita with sharp eyes. His hand terrifies you, but tingling between legs must be what it’s like to be grownup. Doctors’s mouths form words HIV and gonorrhea, but he says that he’s not into condoms, so you just lay down. You want it so bad. Snap. You are watching a surreal video, girls on a bed, one in bathroom contemplating suicide, montage of high-strung voices. You trace scars on weary limbs – TV screen faraway and nearby in time. Yet you survived.
(Inspired by “Eternal Youth” Exhibition at MCA Chicago)
“Flamingo on Train” by me. 2017. Photography, ink and PhotoShop. See more of my work in the gallery.