RICHARD SAWDON SMITH
Death of Youth series – is a polemical project for Richard. The initial images, shot the week of his 50th birthday, seek to explore issues of not just aging on the gay scene but how youth may negotiate encounters through the Internet and mobile apps.
Death of Youth could be read as a mid-life crisis, feeling situated outside a gay culture primarily predicated on youth or his nostalgia for a time pre-internet, where social engagement happened in the ‘real’ world. It isn’t necessarily a lament for his own youth, as this is a fascinating stage of life for Richard where he has greater interest from younger guys looking for an older man, attracted to an idea of maturity as well as masculinity, experience and confidence – often, but not always, articulated in terms of domination.
However, the range of desires, fetishes and expectations articulated by such youths of what that encounter may contain hasn’t come from physical experience, first hand knowledge but through pornography. In an age of apps, cruising websites and proliferation of sexual proclivities through the network, a shopping list of requirements often predetermines any meeting; engagement and intimacy can be overlooked. There are obviously positives in that we live in more open times. Sexual inclinations are not viewed as dirty secreted hidden desires. Individuals do not have to feel alone and isolated, there is potential for a sense of community and sharing - but has the experience of youth been commodified into a virtual occurrence and reduced its expectancy?