As a teenager, it’s difficult to be taken seriously. Despite your best efforts, people are quick to write you off as naive and uninformed. “Ah, what do they know? They’re just kids.”
It’s suitably frustrating – especially when the decisions that impact your generation the most feel forever out of your hands (see: Brexit, US gun laws, pretty much everything in the world ever). Much of the time, it feels like no one is asking what young people think.
Which is why Common Ground – a new exhibition comprised of photographers aged between 16 – 19 years old – feels, in today’s world, particularly apt. Housed at London’s Autograph gallery until 20 November, 2018, it showcases young photographers responding to the current socio-political climate, as they see it.
The exhibition tackles a range of subjects, all of which are particularly pertinent to a younger demographic. For instance, photographer Chantae Henry explores how the housing crisis and rising cost of limit has resulted in the rise of young people hopping from sofa to sofa.
“The homelessness we see on the streets is only the tip of the iceberg. Couch surfing hides homelessness,” she explains. “Taking a more conceptual, less obvious approach, my work aims to dispel the myth that there is anything fun or simple about living a life of couch surfing. It’s not a sleepover if you cannot go home.”
Elsewhere, Courtney Jelley’s work depicts her own relationship with both disability and identity. “My identity and what I would call a safe place have been ripped away from me,” she says. “For me, my home was embedded within Irish dancing. However, that was torn away from me when my disability, a medical condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, started taking over my everyday life. My work represents the emotion I felt being unable to dance.”
By giving young people the platform to spotlight the issues that matter to them, Common Ground seeks to readdress the balance. For the artists – all of whom worked with Autograph and University of the Arts London on their Album programme – it’s an opportunity to be heard.
Common Ground is showing at London’s Autograph gallery from 14 – 20 November, 2018.