Stephanie Mill's "Young and In the Way”

June 09, 2014

Young and In the Way is the latest project pioneered by Stephanie Mill, a Toronto native analogue photographer and 22-year-old wunderkind. The work, consisting of 35mm film photographs (curated from around eight years’ worth of negatives) and an accompanying 60 page zine, came about during Mill’s thesis year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. The young photographer sought to break down the differentiation between formal explorations and personal work. She says, “The images I was creating [before] felt like they lacked actual meaning and just looked really mundane and mechanical… So I started thinking that I should never have to differentiate between a project and personal work… ‘Young and In the Way’ is the coinciding of my work as an image-maker and my life, focusing on personal relationships, with no guidelines or rules or deadlines—just an ever growing archive that I self-curate for the rest of my life… I am focusing on the awareness of the potential of failure, the embracing of contingency, and the acknowledgement of self-deprecation.”

The series opens with a hand-written artist statement by Mill, beginning, “This is a documentation of existing alone, together… It is an archive of the geography of human relationships.” While the photographs do not read as a linear narrative, it seems the goal of YAITW is not to tell a specific story, but to allow the viewer a glimpse into Mill’s life and growth as both an artist and a young adult—an exploration that will no doubt continue for years to come. “I will be capturing [YAITW] for the rest of my life,” Mill concludes, “It will always remain close to home for me, not because I feel like my story is more important than any other, but because I need to work this way in order to understand myself.”

text by Maddie Maschger