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Teenage Wildlife

teenage wildlife

Research Centre
Art and Design Research Centre

2011 - 2012

Teenage Wildlife is a curatorial project by Esther Johnson, exploring representations of youth on film

Teenage Wildlife is a curatorial project by Esther Johnson exploring representations of youth on film, and the curating of moving-image work in a vidéothèque context. The project presented a novel approach to visitors accessing a selection of chosen films and videos that hinged on the active participation of visitors to self-select works for viewing.

The 25 chosen film/video works demonstrated the rich inspiration found in youth and adolescence, and were carefully selected to contradict expectations of the ‘teen film’ genre. ‘Teenage Wildlife’s’ focus was global and multi-era, spanning genres including archive and amateur films, drama, travelogue, artist film and video, campaign films, and documentary. Selections included tales of angst, confusion, delinquency, boredom, sexual discovery, love, empowerment, and portraits of adolescents at work and play.

The project was commissioned by Turner Contemporary, Margate, for inclusion in the exhibition, Nothing in the World But Youth (Sept 2011–Jan 2012), which drew 123,000 visitors. Supplementary content included an interview on BBC Radio Kent and a podcast about Johnson's vidéothèque curation, and her own experiences as a teenager.

An earlier incarnation of the project was exhibited at Site Gallery, Sheffield alongside Mohamed Bourouissa's work, and a linear looped projection of selected works was screened at ArtProjx Space, London (both 2008).

Johnson spoke about the project at Rebels, Rioters, Revolutionaries, the 3rd Annual Interdisciplinary Conference hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Canterbury Christ Church University (2012).


Blanche Pictures


Feature about Esther's work by Frances Morgan for Sound and Music

Researchers involved

Esther Johnson - Reader in Media Arts · Principal Lecturer, Film and Media Production

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