Face to face with teen angst

A sneak peek into Michelle Sank’s touching solo exhibition.


Born in 1979 in Cape Town, South Africa, photographer Michelle Sank fled her homeland during the Apartheid era. The artist lived in a number of countries before finally settling in the United Kingdom. Seeing many teenagers in many countries throughout her lifetime, Sank started to explore the nature of coming of age, and highlights our development towards adulthood.

Her images show exceptionally ordinary scenes, as Sank photographs her subjects mostly in their personal habitat. Yet she creates an intriguing portrait of young people, all discovering their identity and searching for where they might belong. Glamcult got you the nuts and bolts of her Lovely Young exhibition, currently on show in Amsterdam.



How would you describe western adolescence?

I see this as a freedom of expression on the one hand but also a pressure to conform to certain values around body, image, acceptance, et cetera.

What should our readers expect from the exhibition in Amsterdam?

My work has previously been exhibited through Gallery Vassie at Huis Marseille and at Unseen in Amsterdam. However, I’m excited, as this is my first solo show in The Netherlands. The exhibition showcases pieces from a cross section of various series from the past 15 years of my youth work.

The curation of the show is complemented with a beautiful design by the creative agency HarrimanSteel and includes quotes and text to explain the work. It has a clean, contemporary feel, and I’m very excited to see the results.

What kind of people do we see in your images?

Young people from different social groups, cultures and identities.

What do you normally look for in your subjects?

I look for that sense of other, or something special that emanates from them. A result of their life experience.


Lovely Young is on show until 27 August at Gallery Vassie



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