In 1985, Karen Marshall began photographing a group of teenagers in New York City. Her intent was to show the emotional bonds between girls at the age of sixteen and document the emblematic relationships they often develop at that time. Ten months later, Molly, a girl from the group, died in a car accident, upon which Marshall decided to continue the project. This led to ‘Between Girls’ evolving into an observation of friendship over a period of 30 years.
Karen Marshall : “In the fall of 1985, I met Molly Brover, a bright, exuberant 16-year-old high school junior, and asked if I could photograph her and her friends. Enthusiastic to show me her Upper West Side girl world, Molly agreed, and I was soon privy to her ever-rotating group of girlfriends, spending time with the teenagers on a regular basis and documenting the everyday rituals of their friendship.
Molly was a vibrant and impulsive girl. She had a larger-than-life personality with wisdom beyond her years. Behind the façade of social advisor and fun-loving friend was a deeply sensitive thinker who had yet to find her grounding in the world. Her dark theatrical style along with her poetic and scattered energy drew my lens easily to her. She was a natural and compelling cinematic teenager, and the circle of girls I met through her captivated me just as much.
Ten months later, Molly was hit by a car and killed while on vacation in Cape Cod. I was devastated. But I resolved to keep the project going. I knew that Molly would remain seventeen, while the rest of them would become women, and that break in continuity among the girls inspired me to continue to document them in various ways over the years to come… In the summer of 2015, I spent ten days crossing the country and visiting each of the women. I created formal portraits and shot reportage-style Instagrams with the iPhone.”
Karen Marshall documents social issues. She is the recipient of grants and support from private foundations. Her photographs have been exhibited internationally and are part of several collections. She is the Chair of the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program at The International Center of Photography in New York City.
Karen on the book project : “In 2018, I began a collaboration with Dutch photo book designer Teun van der Heijden. Teun understood how to house this complex narrative within the architectural structure of a book, and together, we have crafted a winning design, a powerful template that embraces the essence of this long-term undertaking. Kehrer Publishing in Germany agreed to publish the book in a small run. The limited-edition book ‘Between Girls’ will be printed on four different paper stocks and include QR codes for the reader to access the various media elements that are an integral part of the project. The goal of ‘Between Girls’ has always been to interweave numerous media and create an articulate visual narrative. I am excited to share ‘Between Girls’ as a book, an object that viewers can hold in their hands, an experience that is both visceral and interactive.”
Marshall’s photos have appeared in numerous international publications, including the New York Times Magazine, the London Sunday Times, The Atlantic, New York Magazine, NPR Picture Show, GUP Magazine or even PDN.
Between Girls – Karen Marshall . Hardcover 20.3 x 27 cm . 268 pages . 172 color and b&w ills. English . Available . ISBN 978-3-96900-035-9 . GoSee : kehrerverlag.com//karen-marshall-between-girls
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