By Mike Albo
Originally published on Advocate.com November 21 2009 7:15 AM ET
Brandon - Sarasota, Fla.
In the past, when you wanted to capture the face of disaffected youth,
you would hang out in record stores or McDonalds parking lots. Jeffrey
Kilmer found most of his subjects through MySpace, from 2002 – 2008.
Most of them are musicians or members of local bands. In many ways
nothing has changed with youth: these are kids who have perfected their
fame pouts and slouchy attitudes before they really know themselves. In
the midst of that age when you think that smiling is a sign of
You can see timelessness in Kilmer’s portraits — in
the practiced expressions and awkward sexuality of these young people,
but this book could end up being totemic. The photos depict a moment in
culture — when the Internet was less controlled and kids were using
MySpace to express themselves and as a flyer for their bands. Now there
is less chance for unfettered connection on the Internet. Myspace has
been inundated with messages from Russian sex spambots named Katya, and
people are gravitating towards less penetrable social networking sites
like Facebook. In a way these portraits are a snapshot of a virtual
Wild West, when people made thrilling, sometimes scary connections with
total strangers and it still felt fresh. Moody, tattoo-ey, using their
hair to express their emotions, the subjects that Kilmer captures
embody the real face of American youth as it was briefly in this
wandering, hungry era: the strangely excessive yet depressingly weighty
Jesse - Laguna Beach, Calif.
Jeffrey Kilmer: "23% PURE is a provocative and gorgeous collection of photographic portraits of young men, often incorporating lush pastoral or post-industrial backdrops. The photos capture that brief, vanished moment in history when young people marketed themselves unguardedly online. The pictures also preserve, with unwavering precision and compassion, the tenuous, trembling youth of their subjects."
J.D. - Paris, France
Jeffrey Kilmer: "As an architect, I love landscapes – natural and man made. I wanted to feature a few landscapes in the book. Many of the images in the book have two real subjects, the model and the landscape. I choose the landscapes in each city, spending several hours before the shoot location scouting. I placed the landscapes in the book between the thumbnail pages, almost as a sorbet, a palette cleanser, to minimize the possibility of monotony."
Marc - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Clayton - Modesto, Calif.
Jeffrey Kilmer: "If I locate a bunch of interesting kids in a city that
I’m scheduled to work in, I’ll try to stay an extra day at my own
expense in order to shoot them. I love medium-sized cities that are not
on the radar, places like Tulsa, Oklahoma or Louisville, Kentucky."
Inno - Los Angeles
Michael - Bluffington, S.C.
Chad - Springfield, Mo.
Monty - Houston
Jeffery Kilmer: "Evenings in the late 1980's & early 1990's were spent buying beer and Canadian Club Whiskey under age, at the City’s bullet-proof "party stores" and at sketchy alternative haunts in downtown Detroit and Hamtramck. The clubs were (mostly) located in the worst ghettos of the city. Clubs called Todd’s (in a defunct bowling alley), The Shelter, City Club, Lili’s, and St. Andrews Hall (the local independent band venue) were tiny hotbeds of creativity in the Murder Capitol of the World. I dressed only in black, had high, ratted “Robert Smith” hair, wore black eyeliner, but not tattoos. Tattoos were rare in the late 1980s; even on the bands I loved."
Josh and Christian - Honolulu, Hawaii
Tommy - Del Ray Beach, Fla.
Jeffrey Kilmer: "The kids that interest me tend to have a certain moody or rebellious look to them. Perhaps they remind me of my teenage days?! Scars, black eyes, and tattoos tend to make them more interesting to me. The majority of the kids are cool, "creatives," and we often have common interests, such as music or fashion. Many of them become friends over time. We exchange music mix CD's and art via the old-fashioned mail."
Ibbi - Leeds, United Kingdom
Sam - Cleveland, Ohio
Derek - Nashville, Tenn.
Zac - Brooklyn
Henry - Boulder, Colo.
Max - Seaside Park, N.J.
Max - Brooklyn, N.Y.
Corey - Deltona, Fla.
Bryan - El Paso, Texas
Herrera - Allentown, Penn.