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The Book Column : Barbara Marstrand : Still Life of Teenagers


Messy beds, piles of objects scattered on the floor, trinkets of all kinds adorning a dresser turned into a sanctuary for these objects-slash-totems. What could be more universal than a teenager’s bedroom? Danish photographer Barbara Marstrand captured around fifty of them brought together in her vibrant book Still Life of Teenagers.

Makeup and beauty products, clothes and medals, musical instruments or sports gear, computers and video games, photographs and posters, teddy bears or vodka bottles… Multicoloured and overflowing, the rooms chosen by Barbara Marstrand are everything that can be  imagined of a teenager’s bedroom.

The saturation effect is reinforced by the book’s format, folded in such a way that four pages, rather than two, can unfold before the reader’s eyes, allowing them to play with different combinations. Put together the images offer a sight on the verge of abstraction, a patchwork of shapes and vibrant colours.

The rooms are photographed without any human presence. Barbara Marstrand deliberately captured them empty. Yet, as we scrutinise these interiors, we can almost picture the teenagers inhabiting them. These hollow portraits tell their story much better than a series of poses in front of a camera would. Every detail of this space — their space — is a piece of their evolving identity. Like a work of art in the making, these rooms are an accumulation of raw material waiting to be shaped and refined in order to reach their completed form.

Through these empty yet vibrant spaces, Barbara Marstrand awakens in us the nostalgia for this intermediate age, this formative period during which the world fits within four walls and the self is told through objects.


Barbara Marstrand – Still Life of Teenagers
Published by Diskobay, 2023
16 × 24 cm, 108 pages
Essay by Mette Sandbye
In all good bookshop and online

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