Youth is no longer intangible: FastForward Collective

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There is nothing linear about youth.

It’s a chaotic mess of who we actually are and who we’re trying to be. The lines between our own experience and the experiences of those caught on camera are often blurred. Would we be happy with an experience if we couldn’t put a filter on it and post it? If nobody knows that something happened, does it matter? Did it ever even really happen?

Whether something ever actually happened is a question this generation asks itself increasingly frequently. Late nights and narcotics – natural, chemical and social – are expanding our minds and warping our realities. Social media and the internet do nothing to help us pin down this coveted time. A memory is snapped and shared, remaining relevant for hardly any time at all before the noise of the internet washes it away. Cue FastForWord Collective presenting YOUTH.

In the summer of 2012, Carolina Cavalli, Tatiana De Pahlen, Sodia De Pahlen and Elizabeth Giplin were living in an apartment in Berlin. More than just a living space, it became what the accommodations of so many creatives tend to become. Elizabeth describes it as “an airport lounge, a gallery, a common space”. A place where youth can be realised, expressed and captured. The establishment of FastForWord Collective was organic and YOUTH is their first project. YOUTH is a book of photography by 16 artists who are each embodying how Generation Y is living, or should be living, or wants to be living.

When asked, Tatiana describes each of the contributors as having nothing in common other than a “general aesthetic” and the fact they’re all internet babies, but even then each artist is all consumingly existing in their “own universe”. Up until now, their images have been virgin. Untouched by human hands yet devoured by eyes on screens. Now the works of Coco Young, Coco Captain, Coni Dietrich, Florian Ferrier Grusch, Matt Fry, Phillipe Gerlach, Yougo Gerberg, Elena Kholkina, Alex Khudokon, Magdelena Pardo, Elle Perez, Tatjana Radicevic, Colin Michael Simmons, Sophie Van Der Perre, Logan White and Ryan Young have been immortalised between the covers of a book. It could be your youth looking out at you, or at least the one you think you’re having.

Before the images have even been seen, the tagline draws you in. “If we weren’t young, youth would have killed us”. It puts into a simple sentence the narcissism and perceived indestructibility of being twenty-something and the nostalgia you might already be feeling for the present. You’re desperate to make the most of youth, to capture it and remember it. Before any given moment of it has even fully passed, you miss it, crave its return with unnecessary intensity. It’s an infectious emotion, and the transience of the internet is rubbing off on others as well. Finally somebody, or a few somebodies, have taken classic images of today’s youth – which, by the way, is not hostage to an age bracket – and made it concrete. It’s about time there was something tangible recording these fast fading moments asopposed to a myriad of digital platforms. How can an image from last month or last year be classic? These images are classic because they are not necessarily a genre of images you have never seen before. You probably have. Only the ones you are familiar with were taken in the 60s and 70s – a time when youth was meant for roaming.

The images featured in YOUTH mainly follow the trend of freedom. The evasion of responsibility and ability to travel and enjoy a no-strings lifestyle is a yearning that lurks in most of us. Freedom through the road trips taken by Yougo Jeberg that span across America. An old campervan trundles across state highways as friends each more beautiful than his or her predecessor jump naked from sand dunes and laugh and fall and remind us that they are free. Free from the constraints of society. Free from worry. Free to come and go as they please. Free to love and be loved. But maybe most importantly, they are free to be confused and free to discover. Climbing the career ladder leaves no room for self discovery, except for maybe a well structured gap year.

When we reached out to Tatiana about YOUTH, we were invited to its New York launch which doubled up as an exhibition of YOUTH contributor Coco Young’s work. On the walls were her photographs. Again there were open roads and neon lights and a definite sense of journey as opposed to destination – the journey of youth and discovery. When Coco began to speak about her work it was a stream of consciousness. Not that her work isn’t structured, but rather than being helmed by logic it is driven by feeling and experience. She spoke of the likeness between “getting fucked up and dreaming”, the suspended state of haze that Generation Y exists in. We are constantly straddling borders. Our productivity is born out of procrastination and a burning need to express and experiment and remember. Coco’s work is a log of her own experience. The scrawlings of 5am epiphanies and self deprecation are embroidered on canvases that hang between her photographs. Embroidered to remind the spectator that these words are feelings. “I wanted them to be multi dimensional,” Coco explained, “they’re not flat.” A statement that embodies the YOUTH manifesto; the least 2D generation one might imagine.

These images are diary entries, a representation of lives being lived today. We’re caught in a haze of new technology and it is both a blessing and a curse. We may be capturing more memories but we’re not remembering them. YOUTH is an attempt to put down on paper the golden age of Generation Y. A reminder from past us to future us – look how much fun we had.

For more information about YOUTH visit fastforword.co

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