Deanna Templeton

What She Said

Photographer Deanna Templeton (USA, 1969) is best known for her street pictures documenting everyday suburban life in Southern California and the skate and beach scene of Huntington Beach, a city where she has lived all her life. Through her personal and sensitive approach to her often youthful subjects, Templeton manages to show a different side of these subcultures, away from the stereotype of virile skate heroes and sexy bikini babes. Her portraits of strangers she met while accompanying her husband (former professional skater turned street photographer and artist Ed Templeton) on skate tours or during the couples’ daily walk on the pier close to their home, are often made into series dealing with identity and body image.

In ‘What She Said’ (a title taken from a song by The Smiths) - Templeton’s second solo exhibition at Gallery FIFTY ONE - the artist shows the timeless portraits she made of young girls on the streets of the US, Europe and Russia alongside gig flyers and her own teenage journal entries from the mid to late eighties. The latter range from the melodramatic to the deeply disturbing and testify to her intense struggles with her self-image. By combining egodocuments with street portraits, this moving series sheds a light on the universal experience of (female) adolescence and the challenges, the joys and the pains of growing up; a subject that often goes unnoticed.

As in previous series such as ‘Scratch My Name On Your Arm’ (2011) - with some disturbing portraits of young female bodies ‘autographed’ by skateboarders and surfers - in ‘What She Said’ Templeton raises awareness of the position of young women in society and how they are viewed from the outside. Templeton has the ability to connect deeply with her youthful subjects, treating them with respect and equality. Moreover, the clothing, hairstyles and overall attitude of most of the girls in her photographs - situated somewhere between punk, metal and goth - are reminiscent of herself at that age. While most look confidently into the camera, beneath the surface one can also recognise a sort of awkwardness and discomfort in their own skin; a subtlety typical of this phase of life, masterfully captured on film by Templeton.

This exhibition follows the publication of the book of the same name by Mack Books in 2021 and is simultaneously on view at the SFMOMA (San Francisco, USA) in the group exhibition ‘Kinship: Photography and Connection’ (May 20 – November 12, 2023).

Artists: Deanna Templeton

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