Sally Sharpe: I get Older They Stay The Same Age
At Blackpool Social Club we are all about supporting creatives and new graduates in Blackpool: photographers, artists and musicians pushing boundaries and exploring new realms, proving just how cool Blackpool is. We noted Sally Sharpe’s work on social media and warmed to the threads of skateboarding, how we measure time and growing older and how we might consider intimacy and relationships using Photography to explore these complex themes.
Sally Sharpe: “Through this body of work, I aim to capture moments of performance, self reflection, intimacy, and nostalgia.
Over the last four years, I have photographed teenagers and captured the intimacy they have for each other. I have produced a series of self-portraits where I was transformed into a sex doll, showing the objectification of the female form but also illustrating the sadness of those men that replace women with non-humans, highlighting how this loss of intimacy is possibly a dangerous thing, for relationships and for women. I have photographed places and landscapes and yet the connections I made with them and the strangers I met along the way, show an intimacy. I have photographed a group of young skaters who not only accepted me into their world but gave each other a real sense of belonging and a support network that many adolescent men struggle to find. I wanted to work with my subjects on this project rather than just simply documenting their intimate lives, often with a voyeuristic eye. John Berger (b 1926) wrote:
“Soon after we can see, we are aware that we can also be seen. The eye of the other combines with our own eye to make it fully credible that we are part of the visual world”
(Berger. 1972, p9)
With these portraits I believe that my subjects are performing for the camera and exploring themselves with a self-awareness that is distinctly contemporary. They understand the visual culture, acutely aware of how identity can be not only communicated but created. They are willing collaborators. My practice and its’ version of ‘intimate life’ is a response to the work of Goldin, Clark, Davey and McGinley a recognised heritage of the intimate.
My own memories of adolescence are ingrained in all the photographs I take of young people. I put myself into every frame. Being back at Blackpool School of Arts, the same place I was when I was their age, giving an autobiographical quality and nostalgic sense. I am far older than my subjects, am I ‘othering’ them or am I just creating an eternal adolescence for myself, rejecting adulthood? Is it not that in todays’ hyper connected world, that we or at least the youth of today is aware of ‘other’ all the time and that this has led, to them performing all the time? I believe that taking intimate photographs needs to be a collaboration between photographer and subject. The subject has to give, to pose, to perform, as the photographer I need to put them in a position where they feel generous enough to offer an intimate view of themselves.
Due to the current situation my collaboration with my subjects has been put on hold and I have had to turn the camera on myself. This has been an undeniable challenge, not only on a technical level, but on a personal, intimate level. No one was there when these pictures were made, just my disconnected ideas of self, my camera and my reflection on the screen, screaming the inexorable decline.
I have had to examine the relationship between the individual, time and space. I see how myself, and the world around me, is changing over time. Juxtapose past and present selves, capturing the moment of my sense of self at two distinctive times in my life. Now and then, capturing a moment in a lifetime a stage in a lifetime- being young and memorialising it in I Get Older They Stay The Same Age. In this era of isolation, photography has reconnected myself, in a disconnected way, with my own past and with who I am today.”
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