Photographer Damon Casarez has researched the continuing struggle for independence faced by those aged 20 -30. Having finished College or University it is becoming increasingly common for these individuals to then move back to live with their parents as a result of financial pressures or competitive job markets, rather than by preference. Referred to as ‘millennials,’ this series looks at this specific demographic cohort that researchers and commentators have highlighted as those with birth years ranging from the 1980s -2000s.
There are some quite frightening statistics associated with this project. The New York Times Magazine stated that 1 in 5 people in their 20’s and 30’s will currently find themselves still living at home. In the Western world we have known our parents generation to own their own house and to have started their own families by this time, whereas individuals of the same age nowadays are largely in no position to even be able to consider following this pattern.
Damon Casarez was one within this statistic and sought to conduct the project as a means to connect with others forced into the same situation. All of Casarez’s subjects currently live in the US, where some have up to $90,000 worth of student debt, some are still currently unemployed, some are employed but not yet near, or remotely near their goals.
The series is a moving account of a very real issue that faces young individuals today and of course their families as well. Each sitter is shown within his or her home environment where there is a surprising sense of perseverance that might not be expected considering that each individual to some extent has had to accommodate a process of ‘re-adolescence.’ It is frustrating to acknowledge their evident drive of ambition and their continued willingness to work, yet the current lack in economic ability to be able to facilitate these motivations.
With additional facts pertaining to each individual, we are able to gain a further insight into the backgrounds of each subject. Their ambitions are not at all seemingly extravagant, poignantly highlighting that despite the individuals ambition – whether it be to become a film producer, a social worker or a librarian; across the board of potential career aspirations, young individuals are struggling to accomplish these roles within society. Forcing the viewer to engage in current debates of what and how this issue may be resolved.
text Maresa Harvey
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Adrianne Smith, 28, Seminole, Fla. Degree: B.A., Psychology, University of Central Florida; M.S., Counseling, Nova Southeasern University Career goal: Expanding her business Current job: Entrepreneur and therapist (whose clients include autistic children) Student Loans: $40,000 (for graduate school)
Annie Kasinecz, 27, Downers Grove, Ill. Degree: B.A., Advertising and public relations, Loyola University, Chicago Student Loans: $75,000
Ashley Chang, 25, Queens Degree: B.A., Comparative literature, Hamilton College Career goal: Digital media manager Current job: Digital-media analyst Student Loans: $20,000
Gabriel Gonzalez, 22, Suffern, N.Y. Degree: B.F.A., Graphic design, School of Visual Arts Career goal: Graphic designer Current job: Graphic designer and production assistant Student Loans: $130,000
Jacqueline Boubion, 30, Diamond Bar, Calif. Degree: B.A. Communications, California State University, Fullerton Career goal: Film director Current job: Production assisting in commercials and music videos Student Loans: None, but $22,000 in credit-card debt
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Mikey Billings, 29, Statesville, N.C. Degree: B.A., Film studies, Full Sail University Career Goal: Film or music industry Current Job: Working part time at a malt shop Student Loans: $80,000
Monica Navarro, 24, Escondido, Calif. Degree: B.A., Literature and writing, University of California, San Diego. Career Goal: Librarian Current Job: Library volunteer, Home Depot Worker Student Loans: $44,000