While Mr. Forager & I are on the road, making our way to California, we’re rerunning Artsy Forager’s most popular posts. This post originally published on January 23, 2012. Enjoy!
The other night, we caught a bit of a Travel Channel show in which Andrew Zimmern visited a tribe in Madagascar, whose ritual tradition dictates that a boy becomes a man at the age of five years old. Jewish boys celebrate coming into manhood with a Bah Mitzvah at age thirteen. The work of photographer Jessica Maria Manley explores the idea of whether societies can truly define what is appropriate based solely on an individual’s age. Is a boy really a man at five? Thirteen? Twenty-one? Forty-five?
Manley’s haunting images of her young subject, Melissa, show the young girl engaging in those activities so many little girls enjoy– playing dress up, playing with make-up, pretending to be grown-ups. How many of us did the same?
Some of the imagery may be a bit off-putting, even disturbing as we see a little girl exploring an adult’s world. But how often are children thrust into situations beyond their years? Or they feel pressured to be tiny adults?
Manley’s images may be a visual representation of the societal pressures kids feel every day, in every nation. They could also be interpreted as imaginings of a woman who is chronologically an adult, but still feels the vulnerability and smallness of a child.. A woman whose childhood was robbed of her.
To see more of Jessica Maria Manley’s intriguing work, please visit her website. Her provocative photos touched me, hope you find them as thought provoking as I did.
Featured image is On the Dock, 2011. All images are via the artist’s website.