Young Victorians seeing and shaping the future

5 March 2024

Today/Tomorrow by Kenton/Davey will be on display until March 24.
Today/Tomorrow by Kenton/Davey will be on display until March 24.

What do young Victorians think about themselves and their futures? That’s the question a new series of artworks on the steps of Parliament House is trying to answer.  

The works are part of the PHOTO 2024 International Festival of Photography, a biennale featuring an art trail of 100 free exhibitions and outdoor art installations in Melbourne, Ballarat, Benalla, Castlemaine, the Latrobe Valley and Shepparton.  

The theme for this year’s festival is ‘The Future is Shaped by Those Who Can See It’.  

To that end, the photographic duo Kenton/Davey have produced 16 portraits of young Victorians entitled Today/Tomorrow, accompanied by audio recordings of their thoughts about their own futures and the future of our society. 

Brendan McCleary, a curator with the festival, says it’s exciting to be back on the parliament steps for the third time.  

‘I'm really excited by this work because what sharing here are the voices of Victorian youth aged between 18 and 30 and looking at the ways in which they see the future,’ he says.  

Young people like Ibukun, who’s struggling to reconcile the demands of study and adulthood with his desire to pursue enjoyment and creativity.

‘My parents feel I've had enough fun. They reckon I should get back into the real world and start getting on the career grind, which I completely understand, especially from ethnic parents. I'm tossing up my options, I want to respect my parents’ wishes (and) I also want to respect my wishes as well. It's hard finding the balance,’ he told the artists.

Or Em who tries not to become overwhelmed by the challenges facing so many young people today. 

‘It seems terrifying when you look at the big picture. I try to stay a bit smaller and focus on my life and, of course, (to) stay politically aware. It does seem overwhelming when we have conversations about climate change and trying to buy a house somewhere, and what the future looks like,’ she says. 

Photographer Aishah Kenton says young people are ‘going through a lot’. 

‘Whether that be climate change or even just personal day-to-day problems, they are really deep thinkers,’ she says.  

In allowing viewers to hear the voices of young people the artists hope to build greater empathy in society.

‘People may look different, people may be from different cultural backgrounds, different places around the world, but we all share the same hopes, the same dreams, the same fears and the same struggles,' says Sean Davey.   

Curator Brendan McCleary says the artists have taken a unique approach to their subjects. 

‘They have chosen to use expired Polaroid. So each of the images that you see has these very unique colours and aspects that come through in the way that the work has been created, and in that you get to then see also the individuality of the people that are then shot within each of the images,’ he says. 

You can learn more about the artists and hear from their subjects by visiting the website of Kenton/Davey.