Monday, 3 December 2012

Wild young things: Ryan McGinley

We are twenty-somethings on the blissful brink between youth and adulthood. We are twenty-somethings living the years we waited for and the years we'll remember. Freedom is all ours, the world is all ours, whilst we're still young enough to forget our regrets and make excuses for our mistakes. These are the years of reckless abandon, before the money worries, the settling down, the side effects.

So we probably shouldn't be dragging ourselves to 9ams, nor should the library be our second home in the months of May and June. We shouldn't be planning what to cook for dinner or worrying about our choice of shoes. There shouldn't be essay deadlines creeping up on us and we definitely shouldn't be writing to-do-lists. We should be road-tripping through America or Europe, skinny dipping through lakes and rivers, running naked through forests and fields of stubbled corn as golden sunlight glints across our uninhibited bodies and the wind rushes through our sun-bleached hair. We should be watching sunsets from the roof of our beaten up VW, the one we found abandoned near that house or maybe just stole. The one we painted blue and took to California.

At least thats the life of the spirited twenty-somethings captured by Ryan McGinley's photography. Him and his models bring to life a dream of hedonistic youth, wild and utterly carefree. Watching Walter Salles' film of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, released this year, I was reminded of McGinley's work. The story follows life on the road for three characters grappling with adulthood, identity and a sense of belonging, set against a backdrop of 1940's America. Although the film depicts much of the struggle they go through, many scenes match the audacious oblivion that McGinley's images bring swiftly to mind. 

And he's not alone - many photographers have been fascinated by the art of capturing a realistic portrait of liberated youth; a radiant carelessness that borders on recklessness. Lina Scheynius's diary style photography is personal, often photographing herself, friends and lovers amid their adventures and in candid scenes of intimacy. Flickr photographers are investigating youthfulness in all sorts of ways, cheap film and disposable cameras the perfect stage for portraits of the carefree. In fact, you could say we're all doing it. That's certainly what our Journey issue tells us, coming out this Thursday. Festival summers, inter-railing, a music culture that has never been more eclectic, we're all part of the movement. Between the internships and Saturday jobs, summers are generally spent on the hedonistic hunt for our own free will. There's more to these photos than shiny happy people, and there's more to life than 9ams, there's a fight to show that we can live in the moment, and to prove our freedom, to retain it, further it, push it to the limits


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