“Our bedrooms tell stories about us. They become the repository for memories, desire and self-image,” says American photographer Adrienne Salinger. Her series taken in the early 90s of teenagers and their bedrooms is an incredible insight and a glimpse into the past. “I was fascinated going into strangers’ homes and into people’s bedrooms, asking them about their lives and hearing their stories,” she says. “I was interested in the rich visual information showing the contradictions and ambivalence of coming of age.”
We’ve seen messy bedrooms before with Maya Fuhr’s series from a few years ago but in Adrienne’s project there’s a real sense of her subjects’ identity being portrayed. “I chose teenagers because they’re on the edge of rapid change. It’s almost the last moment they’ll be living with their parents, in rooms that contain all of their possessions. The past is squeezed together on the same shelf as the future,” says the photographer.
Adrienne met her teenage subjects in malls, restaurants and through friends: “I told them not to clean their rooms, not to prepare in any way and no parents allowed.” The contrast between cuddly toys and make up is stark and the static poses of her subjects brings an extra awkwardness, highlighting the transitional time. Looking back at these photographs over 20 years later adds another layer of nostalgia to the series, and it’s hard not to draw comparisons to today’s teenagers who feel far removed from their 90s counterparts.
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