Young Americans

Madeleine Morlet

2018 - Ongoing

Maine, United States

This project is a coming of age story, for both the subjects and myself as an artist. I have been photographing young adults in Maine since moving to America in 2017, during this time my approach has remained in a state of constant flux and discovery. Storytelling is at the centre of my practice, often turning towards other narrative mediums such as film or literature for inspiration. In its earlier stages of development this project appropriated theatrical production details such as props and costumes in order to construct fictionalised narratives around youth. Over the years my focus has gradually shifted, these portraits are now approached through a documentarian lens and, as much as it is possible in the photographic medium, they are grounded in reality.

Maine is as significant a character in these images as the subjects themselves. My relationship with both person and place is one of intimacy; here is my babysitter vaping in her car, my photography student resting in the classroom, the young man who works at the fish shop behind my house taking a break with his girlfriend. As in cinema, my approach considers how the sequence of frames might build and release tension, moving carefully between wide shot, cutaway, medium shot and close up. The device of a frame-within-a-frame contextualises both the ephemeral nature of youth and the role of photography as a marker for the passage of time.

The camera gave me an entry point as an outsider into this community, and it is a relationship that has changed the way I experience the world. I see adolescence as an archetype for our times, reflecting on the restless building of social bonds and a surprisingly concurrent feeling of total isolation. Within the role of narrator, I am interested in how photography translates reality, and the restrictions set by a single frame or a single point of view. This story is a document of young adulthood set to the specificities of rural Maine, it also uses photography to observe the broader experience of what it means to be a young American today.

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