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Generation Y, refers to a demographic of people, also referred to as millennials, born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. Now aged between 25 and 39, the generation came of age in tandem with the rapid growth of the Internet and social media: one of the defining elements of the 21st century.

A group exhibition featuring 10 artists from Generation Y takes the experiences of this cohort as its focal point. Now on show at Museum für Photographie in Braunschweig, Germany, the work ranges from documentary series to more conceptual portraiture projects, displayed via unusual wall installations and video work.

From the series punctum, 2018. © Maik Gräf.


“Digital networking via social media is, like digital surveillance and questions of online privacy, one of the phenomena that Generation Y deals with as a matter of course, but not uncritically”

Anne Wriedt, co-curator of Framing Identity
Installation shot of the series punctum by Maik-Gräf, 2018. © Min Kim.

Curated by Anne Wriedt and Franziska Habelt, Framing Identity: The Photographic Eye of Generation Y seeks to explore the continually evolving and varied identities of millennials, or “digital natives” as they are also known. “I was born in the 1980s and, as a teenager, I experienced the turn of the millennium,” says Wriedt. “Digital networking via social media is, like digital surveillance and questions of online privacy, one of the phenomena that Generation Y deals with as a matter of course, but not uncritically.”

From the series Dreesch, 2016-2017. © Norman Hoppenheit.
From the serie of suddenly gropwing up, 2018. © Tamara Eckhardt.

Spanning the entirety of Generation Y, the exhibiting artists were born between 1979 and 1996, and the work explores varied aspects of the millennial experience. Sebastian Wells documents the Hong Kong protesters of 2019, while Tamara Eckhardt captures the experience of young motherhood. A major focus of the exhibition is the role of social media and surveillance: Rebecca Sampson’s Apples for Sale, employs social media footage to recount the lives of Indonesian housemaids in Hong Kong, and Ira Konyukhova approaches the topic of privacy through drone technology.

Min Kim’s project, an abstract action for beauty, 2018-2019, investigates the phenomenon of passport photography in a series of 22 portraits. © Min Kim.
From the series Apples for Sale, 2016-2018. © Rebecca Sampson.
From the series Hong Kong protests, 2019. © Sebastian Wells.
Installation shot of series on Hong Kong protesters by Sebastian Wells © Min Kim.

The exhibition also includes an ongoing project about dating by Rie Yamada (one of BJP’s Ones to Watch in 2018). The project is the second installment of her self-portraiture trilogy on family. Following on from Become a Family, in which she re-staged family photographs, for Searching Family, Yamada attended ‘kon-katsu’ (spouse hunting) parties in Japan, and impersonated the men she met there. Her self-portraits are displayed in a booklet in front of a physical mirror, confronting viewers with the vacuous and superficial nature of today’s dating culture.

Installation shot of Searching Family by Rie Yamada.
Princess, 2005. © Harry Hachmeister.

The other participating artists are Maik Gräf, Harry Hachmeister, Norman Hoppenheit, Min Kim, and Anna Tiessen. Rather than presenting a portrait of a generation, together, the work on show provides an insight into the artists varied perspectives, and the social and political situation they have grown up as part of.

Framing Identity: The Photographic Eye of Generation Y is on show at Museum für Photographie in Braunschweig, Germany, until 23 February 2020.

Still from video. My Most Faithful Follower, 2018 © Ira Konyukhova.

Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Deputy Commissioning Editor. This was preceded by a degree in English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.

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