How Much Of Your Life Would You Let Your Mom Photograph?

Photo: Courtesy of Martine Fougeron.
When the award-winning film Boyhood came to theaters last year, millions of people were captivated by Richard Linklater's 12-year-long coming-of-age tale of the modern male. New York-based photographer Martine Fougeron's longstanding project Teen Tribe travels a similar path. Since her sons, Adrien and Nicolas, were 13 and 14, respectively, Fougeron has inserted herself (and her camera) into their emotional and physical development to a degree that would send most teenagers running, vodka bottle in hand, for the woods. She's photographed her sons and their friends exhaustively, and for the most part they've allowed her to witness it all — and then to share it with us.

The result is a narrative of their growing up that is both comfortingly representative and immodestly odd. Fougeron snaps her son in the bath, descends on Halloween bashes, bears witness to party-bus antics, and embraces moments of intimacy. Teen Tribe evokes that feeling of inviting your mom to smoke a casual joint, training a third eye on all the parts of adolescent life that aren't necessarily secret, but that are perhaps better experienced alone.

Ahead, the artist comments on the emotional context of some of her most intriguing shots. Look, Mom, no filter.
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Photo: Courtesy of Martine Fougeron.
Adrien Bathing
"[This is] one of the first photographs I set up with lights to capture this eternal moment of total abandonment, which can appear like death...like Ophelius. And yet, it is life outside of time; [it's] a metaphor of adolescence."
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Photo: Courtesy of Martine Fougeron.
Teresa And Nola At Halloween
"[This is] a Halloween party at our home in Saint Luke in the Fields in the West Village. Adrien and Nicolas had decorated the house and invited all their friends; they were all between 13 and 14. Nola and Teresa had prepared for their outfits and wanted to be connected. They each had one similar earring and were on Adrien’s vintage green couch."
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Photo: Courtesy of Martine Fougeron.
The Finger
"Over the six years of the project on adolescence, there were times when one of my sons did not want to be photographed. I wished to portray this resistance to the camera — and, of course, to myself. There was always a photograph I could not capture. This time, its violence hit me in the face."
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Photo: Courtesy of Martine Fougeron.
Pass Me That My Friend
"In Adrien’s bedroom, in its obscurity. Friends would meet and assemble, and we would converse."
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Photo: Courtesy of Martine Fougeron.
Teresa's Long Legs
"The after-prom was in a disco bus that Nicolas and Adrien’s friends had organized. It was an enclosed space with their best friends heading to Shelter Island. It was exhilarating: a rite of passage. I was a witness to this journey of closure and celebration."
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Photo: Courtesy of Martine Fougeron.
Jacuzzi Bonding
"When they arrived at Shelter Island, a big Jacuzzi welcomed them. These kids had grown up together, from the ages of eight to 17, going to the same school, the LFNY (Lyceé Français de New York). They are all French and American — bicultural — and it creates an additional bond and closeness, which is palatable. They were all very comfortable with each other, in such a healthy way. [I] felt their exhilaration."
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Photo: Courtesy of Martine Fougeron.
Lou And Adrien Embrace At Esparon
"[This is] a tender and total summer’s passion in the childhood retreat of Esparon, France, where Nicolas and Adrien spent their summers. [It's] a transition to manhood on the small piazza of this summer retreat — a haven for all."
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