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Now On Exhibition

Tobias Yves Zintel, video still, Neverland Rising, 2010. Courtesy the artist.

Age of Consent
MVS Curatorial Studies Graduating Exhibition
April 14 - May 12, 2012
Doris McCarthy Gallery

Works by Sue de Beer, Wendy Coburn, Kyla Mallett, Leslie Peters, Rebecca Fin Simonetti, Tobias Yves Zintel

Curated by Talia Linz

Teenagers are highly visible and highly mythologized agents of contemporary western culture. This demographic is targeted earlier and earlier as consumers, sexual beings and biocapital, with the mass media and advertisers in particular appealing to and exploiting the teenage drive to both conform and individualize. As Anita Harris notes in All About the Girl: “It is primarily as consumer citizens that youth are offered a place in contemporary social life.” Yet being “young” is generally equated with inexperience and uninformed naiveté, and consequently teens are pitched as questionable in the knowledge and articulation of themselves.

The growing presence and power of youth and the deluge of fears and anxieties around their behaviours, desires, and choices, have been reflected in and influenced by popular culture. Artists, musicians and filmmakers provide us with a cultural lineage of “misbehaving” teens, from the idiosyncratic films of John Waters to the recent Twilight series. Ideas of play, excess and experimentation figure large, as does the negotiation of systems of authority and the development and projection of self-identity. Teenagedom is often conveyed (and at times experienced) as flanked by compulsions of socialization and anti-socialization, and much of its representation swings between these poles. So teens are both violent and vulnerable, highly sexualized and innocents needing protection; bored, apathetic and unproductive while also the key to the future.

Age of Consent brings together the work of six Canadian and international artists who look at adolescence in various forms, exploring experiences (real and projected), perceptions (internal and external), myths, dreams and desires connected to this demographic and this time of life. For all the artists, the question of the adult spectator (and creator) begs interrogation. These youthful representations must be, after all, the projection of adult fantasies and desires—idealized, sentimentalized, regretful, abandoned. They tap into the connection between temporality and adolescence, which is often framed as emblematic of the liminal, a transitional phase to move through to achieve a more stable state of being. There is something in the works in Age of Consent that celebrates wading in the uncomfortable unknowing of adolescence, and asks how this paradigmatic period shapes the formation of the self and continues to inform adult subjectivity.

© University of Toronto Scarborough