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Exploring adolescent sexuality and identity through art

Arts

AS a teenager growing up in a conservative city in Australia, Derek Sargent struggled to find reference points that clarified his personal perception of the world. The lack of representation of queer adolescents and reinforcement of conventional gender roles in the mainstream media bothered Sargent, who began using his artwork to make sense of the world around him and give a voice to a taboo subject.

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“When I was growing up in the 90s, queer imagery for adolescents was non-existent. As a queer adolescent viewing pop culture you would have to look at the imagery which was made in a heteronormative context and twist it to fit into your own perspective,” says Sargent.

The talented artist, from Adelaide, South Australia, has focused his sculpture and installation work on the formative years of adolescent development and favours queer imagery as a way to highlight the overlooked themes of adolescent sexuality and identity.

“I don’t think many artists are exploring this area,” Sargent says.

“While there are many artists exploring sexuality and gender, the moment of adolescence and sexual awakening is skipped over. It’s something that isn’t really talked about.”

The images of adolescents used by Sargent in his sculptures and installations are mostly stills and video footage taken from movies and television because the issue of photographing children remains contentious. 

 

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