In Gimme Shelter, Florian Geiss' staged photographs show the universal frailty of what it means to be young today, while asking where do we go from here?

In Gimme Shelter, Florian Geiss' staged photographs show the universal frailty of what it means to be young today, while asking where do we go from here?

We’re all looking for a sense of purpose to get us through life. It doesn’t really matter what it is – it can come in the shape of a loving person, an occupation you can pour your heart and soul into, or even just a sense of freedom, of never having to settle down and lower your head.

And it’s that search, and the melancholy of not having found a solution yet, that photographer Florian Geiss explores in his new book, Gimme Shelter. Shot all over the world, from Los Angeles to Africa’s Western Cape, his images mix the very human yearning for purpose with the sense of unfathomable loss that comes with modernity. His subjects pose carefully between expansive landscapes, both natural and man-made, making them look small, human – alone.

© Florian Geiss © Florian GeissIt makes sense to be asking for somewhere safe to be. Although the title, Gimme Shelter, makes reference to the iconic Rolling Stones track about the Vietnam War, the book takes that necessity of physical protection from the very real threat of violence, and applies it into modernity and being young, needing emotional protection and from living without a purpose.

Each image carefully staged and with a hint of cinematography, Florian explores what’s it like to exist outside of the guidelines that dictated the lives of previous generations. Because although young people are still pressured by the old American image of what “success” means, we no longer live in times where those measures of happiness are universally applicable.

He also explores gender stereotypes, still perpetuated even within this generational hopelessness. In these images, masculine subjects show an undoubtedly rough exterior, but are still frail, still struggling to find purpose outside of discipline. Women are shown as delicate, but also challenging and sexual. Florian’s subjects are multifaceted, just as all people are.

The protection they are asking for is from a storm that is both physical, shown in threatening stormy grey skies above the cities the photographer visited, and metaphorical, in the heart of young people without a carved way life, a clear future or a compass – a guide for the so-called “path towards success”. So, where do we go from here?

© Florian Geiss
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© Florian Geiss
© Florian Geiss
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© Florian Geiss
A 82208Gimme Shelter by Florian Geiss is out now, published by Hatje Cantz.

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