Lauren Greenfield. Alli, Annie, Hannah, and Berit, All 13, before the First Big Party of the Seventh Grade, Edina, Minnesota, 1998. Restricted gift of Anstiss and Ronald Krueck in honor of RenŽe Harrison Drake, with love and admiration. © Lauren Greenfield/VII (from Girl Culture/Chronicle Books).
The Art Institute of Chicago’s photography exhibition will showcase a collection of perceptive, subtle images focusing on the subject of female adolescence. Girls on the Verge: Portraits of Adolescence — on view December 8, 2007, through February 24, 2008, in Gallery 1 — features more than 40 photographs and one video by 11 contemporary artists, ranging from documentary pieces examining peer groups and body image to posed individual portraits. These pictures reveal the complexity, power, and common humanity of the transitional moments between girlhood and womanhood. Adolescent girls find themselves on the cusp between child and adult. It is a time of physical and emotional changes, of yearning for freedom while secretly cherishing constraints, of finding the pleasures as well as the terrors of one’s own appeal to the world. Increasingly, the dividing line between innocence and adulthood seems more and more blurred. Not surprisingly, then, this simultaneously beautiful and awkward stage has provided photographers with a wealth of material. In recent years, many contemporary photographers have explored female adolescence with empathetic images, featured in this exhibition, that evoke universal experience. Girls on the Verge includes works by a wide spectrum of photographers, all of whom bring their own perspective to the topic. Artists Tina Barney and Sally Mann, for example, looking at their own families and communities, have helped to pave the way for younger photographers. Although they approach their work from different vantage points, both Melissa Ann Pinney and Lauren Greenfield aim their cameras at “girl culture”; Pinney focuses on her daughter, while Greenfield compiles records of girls and women from all walks of life. Mark Steinmetz and Judith Joy Ross have produced restrained yet poignant black-and-white images of adolescents. In her portraits of teens on the beach and her video of a lip-synching young girl, Rineke Dijkstra presents her subjects as simultaneously confident and vulnerable, while Hellen van Meene directs adolescent girls into contrived poses that highlight the clumsy grace of their changing bodies. Finally, Lalla Essaydi, Céline van Balen, and Katherine Turczan photograph young women from non-Western cultures, who are somewhat removed from the overt sexuality and consumerism of the modern West. Girls on the Verge, featuring works from the Art Institute’s permanent collection and includes recent new acquisitions, is a provocative view of the universal experience of adolescence. Photographer Lauren Greenfield will provide an insight into her works included in Girls on the Verge on Thursday, January 31, 2008, at 6:00 p.m., in Fullerton Hall. This free public program is supported by Canon USA’s “Explorers of Light” program.About Art Institute of Chicago