Unknown photographer. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Cobie Hijma. (back)

The young man in this picture is supposed to show nothing else than his best attire, confidence and readiness for whatever crap Life might throw at him, yet I sense some sort of awkward resistance in his thoughtful presence. Maybe a refusal to grow up—or it could be the gorgeously decorated but incredibly uncomfortable-looking chair pushing exactly the most painful spots in his back.

For some, it is an unwelcome moment in life: becoming an adult. Facing the expectations of the world, official authorities demanding respect they often don’t seem to have earned, making a living—cleaning up your own filth. Society and its hopes are often just as uncomfortable as some furniture to sit on: they might be lovely to look at, but there are a few who wish to have nothing else to do with it.

The source of my unease might be his lips: not smiling, not strict, simply in the process of just about trying to say something, frozen in time with the unspoken thought trapped in his mind. „I actually wanted to be an actor.” „I’m not that much into law, you know, but I’m to take over the family business one day.” „What did you say again? Why can’t I have my instrument in this picture?” “Could you please hand me a pen? I would like to feel more in charge of my own fate.”

But then again, can I even imagine what a young man about a century ago might have felt? Those were different times. It is hard enough to imagine what people around 18 think these days. I was there only 20 years ago, and that was a different era. Times change dizzyingly fast.

There is probably one thing that might feel more or less the same, however: the pains of “growing” some sort of stature, whatever that might be. Studying well, raising a family, having a big enough car or the latest gadgets, a higher and higher salary—or just a little money left at the end of the month so that one doesn’t have to worry about the basics until the next payment arrives.

What even is stature? Just another construct? Can one carefully refurbish the existing model and respectfully reshape it more to their liking? I can only hope.

Tired of looking at my backside? Check out my front!

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