Juliana Sohn’s Boys with Long Hair series captures adolescents who, at the time the images were shot, identified as boys. Each sitter has chosen to defy societal conventions and grow their hair long, and is pictured alone, some shot in their homes surrounded by their belongings, some photographed outside. There is a quiet intimacy achieved in each work which is the result of a collaborative process in which Sohn asked the boys about their experiences living with long hair and the kinds of reactions they have received. Sohn seeks to empower her sitters by giving them a say in determining how they are portrayed. The boys often suggest solutions to creative problems that Sohn narrates as they work on the shoot together.
Sohn began this series after raising two boys that chose to have long hair who were regularly mistaken for girls. While her sons were not offended by these presumptions, she states that as the mother of boys with long hair, “I understand the time, patience, and determination the child endured achieving that length. Since many boys with long hair are often mistaken for girls, I see their decision to grow their hair as an indication of the individual’s strong character and their solid grasp of self-identity.” Sohn’s series documents these children with the commitment and inner strength to present themselves as they would like to the world, despite continually being mis-assigned a gender identity by it. The images are a celebration of this small, personal act of protest from children that have the power to challenge cultural assumptions.
Sited on five billboards along the Arbutus Greenway, between Fir St. and Burrard St.
Curated by Emmy Lee Wall, Capture Photography Festival
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