And every time I let you leave
I always saw you coming back to me
When and where did we go cold
I thought I had you on hold
– "On Hold" by The XX
Everyday, typical teenagers like any other appear on the screen, in focused, and suffering from all the things you once enjoyed in your youth. As you come face to face with this nostalgia, you cannot help but shed a tear for all the things you thought you had forgotten and buried in the past, never to resurface, except in pictures.
If the name of Alasdair McLellan does not ring a bell, at least let this video of The XX, which is their first single from the album I See You, caress your soul. Let the celestial blue of its intro envelop you as the voice of Romy Madley Croft comes in, so the confessions of a void impossible to fill evoke those days in which everything appeared lost, and maybe so it was.
As the video progresses, those sunsets, spelled by this ochre passion, are nothing more than a memory, a faded photograph of a mystical yesterday that will never come back.
Then comes one of the best contemporary music samples in the shape of a chorus, and you are reminded of your teenage years when you had love pumping through your being. Memories crowd your brain; clumsy love paralyzes you once again, and you are carried, not only by the beats of Jamie XX, but by the memories of your own distant adolescence. However, that chill that runs up your arms also pushes you to dance.
McLellan directed the video, and he is one of the most successful photographers of his generation we have seen over the last few years. Born in England in 1974, he began publishing in the British i-D Magazine throughout the 1990s, and was catapulted to the fashion world as a creative for young audiences. His works are iconic representations of adolescence.
Alasdair's photographs are like an old personal photo album, a box of polaroids we could have shot with a conventional camera. There's something fascinating behind these images that isn't immediately apparent; they are imbued with a mixture of exquisite simplicity and lascivious spontaneity. In this regard, the artist has stated: "[My models] were very football-casual as to what they were wearing. I remember thinking that if I could put people like them in a session, then that could be my thing —something English, a bit homoerotic, but with a more normal aspect than the style of Ray Petri."
And so he did. He abandons pretentiousness in his shots, filling each one of them with as many props as necessary and exaggerating the attitudes and poses of its protagonists. McLellan accomplished sincere portraits that border on the testimonial, but never on confessional drama. His work is characterized by the pursuit of the extraordinary, in situations we would consider insignificant and common.
His production upholds the pillars of naive eroticism and follows an aesthetic of analog photography. His work is filled with laughter, empty smiles, modesty, and youthful pain. His photos are reminiscent of who we were and the past vices we allowed to destroy us.
You can check out more of Alasdair McLellan and his works on his Instagram.
Translated by Joseph Reiter