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Cruel Story of Youth

By
April 16, 2010

Nestled in the mountains of Massachusetts is Rowe Camp, a summer utopia self-governed by teens.

Grounded in the ideals of a counter-cultural past and freed from the forced constraints of a conventional camp experience, these photographs explore a society of teenagers empowered through otherwise impossible freedoms. Nestled in the mountains of Massachusetts is Rowe Camp, a summer utopia self-governed by teens. In the real world, the campers are too young to vote. But here they’re allowed to give strong opinions about the way they live. It’s a glimpse into what life might be like if no ideas were too absurd and eccentricity was the rule, not the exception. My own summers spent at Rowe were both a culture shock and paradise. Years after my initiation, I returned to photograph the rituals and intricacies of this unusual community. For the first time in their young lives, the looming presence of adults becomes almost nonexistent. They are given the opportunity to define their relationships and daily behaviors without the smothering influence of typical social expectations.

This series explores my personal reconciliation with the slowly fading memories that once had an indelible impact on my path to adulthood. I spent several weeks living with and documenting the emotional landscape of Rowe’s current inhabitants as part alumnus, part outsider. Connecting with my subjects through a shared history afforded me the trust necessary to be able to watch events unfold without censorship. Drawing from my own self-discovery within this same space, I focused on conveying the spontaneity and supportive atmosphere that is the foundation and legacy of Rowe.

Named after Nagisa Oshima’s landmark Japanese New Wave film, the title for the series also refers to the life they must return to after tasting true independence for a fleeting moment.

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Jennifer Loeber (b.1973) was born raised in New York City and received her BFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art.

She has been exhibited widely, including at the Scope Art Fair in New York City, Michael Mazzeo Gallery, The Humble Arts Foundation, and the Emerging Photographers Auction at Daniel Cooney Gallery. Her work was included in the book The Collector’s Guide to Emerging Art Photography published by The Humble Arts Foundation. This series was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2010 Center Awards Project Competition, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and was selected for inclusion in Review Santa Fe. Jennifer currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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One comment for Cruel Story of Youth

  1. Comment by ZZ on May 2, 2010 at 12:18 am

    O youth

    O youth,

    all lithe of limbs

    wide grin

    sing sins

    gold fluid tongue

    and white black

    eye

    balls.

    O youth,

    tune again in and out

    in and out again tune

    whistle your wish right

    and you left

    some small spitstains

    and hungrily roving for more

    life.

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