In 1985, Karen Marshall began photographing a group of teenagers in New York City. Her intent was to look at the emotional bonding that happens between girls at age 16 and document the emblematic relationships that often develop at this time in their lives. Ten months later, Molly, one of the girls in the group, was hit by a car and killed. Marshall resolved to keep the project going and continued to document the girls in various ways over the years. Between Girls evolved into a thirty-year meditation on friendship.
Publisher: Kehrer Verlag 2021
I was introduced to Molly Brover, a 16-year-old high school junior and asked her if I could photograph her and her friends. Molly agreed, and I began spending time with the teenagers on a regular basis and documenting the mundane rituals of their friendship. Their enthusiasm for my project offered me the dialogue I was looking to establish, an emotional interior world that groups of girls can experience together as teenagers. Ten months later, Molly was hit by a car and killed while on vacation in Cape Cod. I was devastated — but resolved to keep the project going. I realized that Molly would remain 17, and the rest of the girls would become women. This inspired me to continue to document the girls in various ways over the years to come.
Over time I amassed hours of footage and hundreds of photographs. My interest in finding creative ways to extend a visual story led me to design an exhibition that ponders women’s friendships using photography and complementary media within the context of the physical gallery space. An endeavor that began with 35mm black and white photographs evolved into a 30-year meditation on friendship which expanded to include audio interviews, old school video, a three-screen channeled video, collage, and a collection of small books and ephemera that explore the archive. Karen Marshall
By The Way
You’ll Never Walk Alone is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.
Book Specs: Between Girls by Karen Marshall published by Kehrer 2021 | Texts: Molly, Jen G., Leslie, Jen P., Zoe, Blake, Karen Marshall | Design: Teun van der Heijden, Heijdens Karwei | Hardcover | 20,3 x 27 cm | 268 pages | 75 color and b/w illustrations | ISBN 978-3-96900-035-92021. Available here.
Between Girls has been developed into a multi-media exhibition using books, audio, video, ephemera, and collage, along with black and white silver gelatin images. The installation was first created for the OK Centrum for Contemporary Art in Linz, Austria in 2008 and is part of the ArtBase at the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum.
New York photographer Karen Marshall documents social issues. By focusing on the psychological lives of her subjects, she has worked on a series of visual stories that contemplate familial relationships and convey ideas about people and place within the cultural landscape.
Video: When Language is not Enough Karen Marshall on the Photo Book (Youtube)
In conversation with Lesly Deschler Canossi, photographer Karen Marshall discusses her 30-year documentary project “Between Girls” and the production of her forthcoming photo book of the same name. The talk, which was part of the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival, explores engagement of long-term projects, nuances of navigating photo essays with multiple voices and the specific challenges of photo book production in weaving numerous media together to create an articulate visual narrative.