A Journey Into The Night
Issue 34 Spring 2003
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There was a time in my childhood when I had to return home when the streetlights were turned on. The young people I photographed in Bristol, Newport, and Cwmbran prefer to stay out later. Hanging around bus stops, street corners, shop fronts, car parks and wastelands at the edge of town, they wait for something to happen. Some of them however have got into trouble. It is only since the beginning of the year 2001 that the police have imposed curfews on individuals. James, Nathan, John, Craig, Lee, they all to have to be back home at nine o'clock p.m. and stay in all night with the police calling every so often to check if they accord to the curfew.
Curfews have been around for hundreds of years and were expected in cities that have been invaded. At the same time they served as a tool of control of Jews during the Third Reich and the black population in the United States during slavery and afterwards. The first curfews for young people in the US became popular in the early 1900s. During the late 1980s they started being enforced again and in May 1996 President Clinton announced that he was supporting a new teen curfew policy leading to a massive increase of weekday curfews at 9pm for teenagers. In 1998 the first curfews for under 10-year-olds were introduced in the UK and at the end of the year 2000 the legislation was expanded for under 16-year-olds.
At the time the street lights are turned on, my work Curfew begins a journey into the night of five housing estates in Bristol, Newport, and Cwmbran. Here like all over the country young people meet outside the houses in order to kill time. The increasing darkness indicates the approach of the curfew at 9pm and turns the meeting points into isolated islands inside an insecure territory. When moving in closer the photographs look into the young and often vulnerable faces of those who move further and further beyond the network of surveillance and social control.