Revisiting Julia Fullerton-Batten’s Towering ‘Teenage Stories’

by Andy SmithPosted on

In the 2005 series “Teenage Stories,” Julia Fullerton-Batten expressed the transition from girlhood to womanhood with surrealist photographs of towering adolescents. These aren’t Photoshopped images, as Fullerton-Batten noted in the artist statement: “I shot the images on location in model villages so that the girls appear to have outgrown the world they live in, as in their day-dream existence.”

She street-cast models with no formal experience and captured images that “portray the emotional dynamics of the female adolescent.” The result magnifies the vulnerability of a bike accident or picking gum off heels and pits these scenes against suburban and urban backdrops. The renderings offer drama and humor, banal moments and introspection. These teenagers are simply surviving this stage of life, while growing up and past their surroundings. A book of this body of work was released in 2007.

A decade later, Fullerton-Batten returned to the concept of survival with “Feral Children,” a meditation on the real-life phenomenon of children stripped from human contact during their developmental years. Here, the enormous figures are gone. But Fullerton-Batten maintains a vulnerability and strength contained in each of these narratives.These subjects work within actual backstories, and like “Teenage Stories,” there’s an additional quality of complete isolation—and an undeniable longing within each tale.

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