Past Exhibition

Teenagers, Belfast

Michelle Sank - 21 October to 2 December 2005

Related Publications

Opening 20 October, 7 to 9pm. All Welcome

BX NEW WORK COMMISSION

In March 2005, Belfast Exposed exhibited ‘Beyond the Family Album (1979)’ by Jo Spence. She described this work as aiming 'to better understand how, through visual forms of representation, our subjective views of selves, are structured and held across the institutions of media, and through hierarchical social relationships.'

South-African photographer Michelle Sank works with similar ideas. She is interested in the experience of growing up, the transition from childhood to adulthood. She is interested in how the media and popular culture influence the way that young people understand themselves and their place in society. She has photographed young people from different parts of the UK and has been commissioned to produce this series while on a residency with Belfast Exposed. Through street photography and collaborative work with youth groups throughout the city, Michelle Sank has produced a series of 18 large-format portraits for exhibition.

If we acknowledge that young people represent the future, where the future appears uncertain, society will often express feelings of ambivalence towards the young. Where once society may have felt more comfortable embracing the sense of freedom and independence of youth, too often today young people simply enjoying free time to themselves are perceived as a social problem. Much of our perception (or misconception) of young people is created and extrapolated through photographic media representations. Media representations of young people will often focus on negative features of youthful behaviour, where hanging out with friends is reinterpreted as anti social behaviour and even teenage styles of dress take on a sinister and threatening aspect. Amidst so many confusing signals, this project asks the question how do young people see themselves, how are they represented and how do they want to be seen?

Michelle Sank was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She has been living and working in the UK since 1987. Her photographs have been exhibited in England, Europe, Australia, Mexico and the U.S.A. She has been published in numerous magazines including Next Level, Hotshoe, Katalog, The British Journal of Photography and PhotoReview. Her images are in the Print Room at the Photographers Gallery, London and are held in permanent collections such as The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas and The Woodstock Centre for Photography, New York. For more information visit; http://www.michellesank.com

Belfast Exposed would like to thank the following groups for participating in this project: Ballybeen Area Project, Beechmount Community Project, Cre8tiv Youth, Fallswater Community Day Services, Greater Shankill Alternatives, St Peter's Immaculata Youth Club and Youth in Action, Out and About.