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Press Release

When I started teaching at school, I was only 23. As you may imagine, the small age gap between my students and I helped me be a part of their world. However, as I continued working there and of course grew older, I realized that the age difference was crafting a change in our relationship.

Every year, I could see my students on the edge of two worlds: a girl as a teenager and a girl as an adult. Through recognizing this, the idea of photographing my students between the age of 16 and 18 at the school environment emerged; the place where they spend at least eight hours a day.

Once when I wanted to show the students how a medium-format camera works, I took a photo of one of the girls, braiding her friend’s hair. It made them enormously excited. All of a sudden, they wanted to be in front of my camera as the subject. The sound of the mirror and shutter closing thrilled them. They even wanted to be the one pushing the shutter release.

It was then that I decided to continue our “shooting sessions” during their break time. It was like a game for us. While I was teaching them how to use a medium-format camera, I was also shooting for my own project. They were interested in learning but sometimes they were worried about their next class. I could see the sense of paradox in them and it was exactly what I desired to depict. I also tried to make the scenes empty, by removing the details as much as I could because their characters in my frames were more important. I wanted to shoot a particular moment that I could observe in my students’ lives.

On the verge of becoming an adult, I followed them after their graduation. Suddenly, it seemed as if something disappeared between us once again. When they turned 18, we became even closer than before and I decided to continue with our sessions. This intimate collaboration – regardless of the outcome – was very meaningful to me. It reminded me of another project of mine; the “Wakefulness” series. When I was working on that series, I could also feel that sense of similarity with my subjects. Once again, I was a part of their world.

In the “Summedream” series, we had similar concerns, even though we were from different generations. I think it was a privilege for me to be able to capture those senses of rebelliousness and fear; hope and disappointment; desire and dislike; innocence and wickedness; and insecurity and confidence.

-Mahboubeh Karamli