A gap of nearly 50 years is bridged by Michael Hoppen Gallery in new exhibition, Untethered, which celebrates the vulnerability, beauty and ambivalence of adolescence. In uniting two disparate photographic series under the same heading, the gallery offers a refreshed insight and new dialogues on the work of Joseph Szabo and Sian Davey. Both artists focus on the subject of youth from within their own personal life stories. Simultaneously intimate and bold, this presentation excels in showing each photographer’s ability to capture fleeting moments in time.
Joseph Szabo began his Teenage series when he was appointed as an art teacher at Malverne High School, Long Island in the early 1970s. The project started as a way of engaging with his pupils and building mutual respect. The approach was very effective and Szabo’s students subsequently became the photographer’s on-going subjects for the next 25 years. The resulting images are a striking evocation of the 1970s and 80s, and yet there is also something timeless and compelling about this portrayal of the universal teenager.
In contrast, British photographer Sian Davey’s Martha is an on-going collaboration between the artist and her step-daughter, which explores their evolving relationship, as well as the lives of Martha and her close friends as they journey through their later teenage years in Devon. The level of trust between Davey and all her subjects is reflected in the intimacy and honesty of the photographs, which range from idyllic pastoral scenes to an interior shot of a hungry moment eating pizza in a late night kebab shop.
Both series provide a candid insight into those momentary teenage years, reminding us that while time continues to pass, adolescence is a universal experience that can be drawn across disparate time periods. The intense, raw emotions captured by the two photographers reflect how, no matter the medium – whether black and white, or colour – the camera is able to document an integral essence of each protagonist. Again, the relationships built between the artists and their subjects are visible in the closeness of every photograph.
Untethered, Joseph Szabo and Sian Davey, until 20 May, Michael Hoppen Gallery, London.
Find out more: www.michaelhoppengallery.com.
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1. Hurt, 1972 © Joseph Szabo. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery