I am 14
September 23rd to 31st October
Adolescence, this beautiful, somewhat repulsive phase. What better way to gain access to it than with the help of a camera? Whether Palestinian, Congolese or Belgian, today it is in front of a lens (often their phone’s) that 14 year-old girls try on and discard, piling them up in small reject heaps, a series of identities just as they to do with clothes in front of the mirror of their wardrobe. They look at themselves and show themselves, they try themselves out and start again.
Through this staged, performance documentary, Bénédicte Vanderreydt investigates what she sees as a complex set of mirrors in which we no longer know who is looking and who is being looked at.
They create a subtle play of mirrors: a group of girls take pictures on a roof, in a pool, in the middle of the school’s corridors, as they do every day, maybe even every minute. But the heroine looks at the photographer, and thus at the viewer, as if to say: “Look, this is my life.” She takes us to task, boldly showing that she is not fooled by a circus orchestrated by others, nor by the picture composed by the photographer; thus she regains power. Isn’t that what adolescence is all about, desperately wanting to belong to the group and yet stand out at the same time?
On the soundtrack that complements the images, we hear them talk one after the other. The girl that says she lives “in an open-air prison” (Ru’a), the one who dreams of a “better life in Europe” (Loraine), the one who complains about people assuming she has “a perfect little life” while she is stifled by it (Valentine). It is not only confinement that unites them: of course their bedrooms are alike; just like the jaded attitude we discover at times; and especially their ease in front of the camera. The situations are certainly theatrical, the poses arranged, but a raw, undeniable truth still shines through.
Bénédicte Vanderreydt’s interest in photography started in her early years. She eventually deepened her knowledge in photography at Gobelins School in Paris. At that time, she gravitated towards portraiture and it was there she found herself anchored in this discipline.For the past three years Vanderreydt has been pondering over narration and developing the series, I am 14, amongst others, which deal with adolescence. She holds a masters degree in Communication and Media from Brussels and studied theater at Xavier Gratacós, in Barcelona.
She concurrently develops an artistic career on stage, radio and in other media. These different approaches continuously influence her research and her artistic work.