HOW SOON IS NOW? HISTORIES AND FIGURES OF YOUTH
Symposium : HOW SOON IS NOW? HISTORIES AND FIGURES OF YOUTH
This symposium is the first stage of the research project How Soon Is Now? Histories and Figures of Youth. It questions “youth” as a conceptual, aesthetic, andpolitical figure born with modernity in the visual arts, popular culture, and the humanities. At the same time, this project proposes to examine the implications ofthe problematic category of "youth" in contemporary art and thought. By exploring the processes in which youth is constituted through its forms of representation, thisproject intends to render intelligible the aesthetic and political dimensions of youth, and to grasp it as a historical allegory allowing for a reconsideration of thecontemporary in the light of its most lively site.
What image(s) does the notion of youth carry with it? What idea does it have of itself? How can we talk about it beyond ingrained ideas and the fantasies that society projects on it (at least in Western culture), making it simultaneously a force, a market, an age, a culture, a piece of a history which which we only began writing inthe twentieth-century, and which today has reached its critical stage? In recent history, the notion of youth has so often been conflated with “bringing down the house” that we now expect everything from it: to reinvent us, to shake us up, to carry us, to succeed in what others have failed at (establishing the most open communities possible), to build bridges for the future, to be radical, to be uncompromising where anyone outside of youth has already given up, to be desirable where others are overwhelmed.
But with what means? If not those that young people make themselves, for themselves, with elements that they alone will have chosen? With their culture, their places, their clandestinity. Because that which is not yet over happens in the shadows of the world. Youth is a secret. “How Soon Is Now?”, The Smiths once asked. When is it, now?