“At the virtual launch, you emphasised that this book had to be universal, and not nostalgic. What feedback have you had from people about The Boys? Does it differ from the boys themselves, those who come from the same place/time, and those with no real connection to the American suburb?
For me, the work is not really nostalgic; I feel that the almost forensic nature of the large format portraits grounds the work in the present. But I may have overstated my case against nostalgia a bit. The feedback has been consistent in that the work evokes an emotional response, which I find very gratifying. But judging from what people have written or told me, the way into the work has really varied. For some, the immediate connection is nostalgia for their youth or that time or place. For others, typically younger readers and often European, it may be anemoia: nostalgia for a time or place you’ve never known. (Like films and novels, photography is good at evoking this.) I’ve heard from people for whom the portrayal of enduring friendship was the hook, and after reading the book they either felt the urge to reach out to friends they have not been so attentive to or lamented that they didn’t have friendships that lasted into adulthood.
Obviously, this work is radically specific: a very particular group of white guys of a particular generation, raised in a very particular American suburban community. From the outset though, my feeling was that if this work isn’t felt to be universal then it’s a failure. Mortality, after all, is the bedrock of our biology.”
Read the full interview here.