GROWING PAINS

GROWING PAINS

David Uzochukwu’s tender photographs capture teenage angst

by Maria Raposo

At just fifteen, David Uzochukwu reveals an incredible talent for photography. His portraits exude a sense of loss and loneliness – hinting at a level of emotional maturity not often associated with adolescent boys. Based in Luxembourg, his work has a tender yet confident style. He photographs friends, almost always alone. Every subject seems lost in reflection, haunted by the past and plagued by inner turmoil.

David Uzochukwu, 'Castaway', 2013

David Uzochukwu, 'Castaway', 2013

KOD: How did you get into photography?
David Uzochukwu: I somehow started using my mum's point-and-shoot a few years back and immediately fell in love. 

KOD: Is there much of an art scene in Luxembourg?
David Uzochukwu: No, I don't think so. Except for two museums we have to visit almost every year with school, Luxembourg is art-free. I'll move to Brussels soon though! It's a real city, so the possibilities are pretty exciting. 

KOD: Your imagery has a sense of loss and sadness. Is this intentional?
David Uzochukwu: It's not intentional, but more like a result of letting all the stored up emotions flow when taking pictures. Photography is my therapy.

David Uzochukwu, 'Pitchblack', 2013

David Uzochukwu, 'Pitchblack', 2013

KOD: Would you describe yourself as naturally curious about people?
David Uzochukwu: I'm always curious to hear people's stories, to get to know them and what keeps them moving. There's nothing better than deep conversations that won't let you sleep afterwards and haunt you for days. 

KOD: Are you ever influenced by dreams?
David Uzochukwu: Sometimes I am, but most often I struggle to remember anything at all. 

KOD: What inspires you?
David Uzochukwu: Everything surrounding me. The books I've read, the music I've heard, the things I've experienced- it all comes together in my work.

David Uzochukwu, 'Cry Me a River', 2013

David Uzochukwu, 'Cry Me a River', 2013

KOD: Do selfies affect your sense of identity? 
David Uzochukwu: I put parts of myself into my self-portraits; they allow me to act on the different aspects of my personality, or to play completely different roles. Exploring the lines between the real and the fake sure is interesting, but there's no chance I'll ever blur them. 

KOD: Who are the people in your photographs?
David Uzochukwu: Always friends. I'm surrounded by so many beautiful people.

KOD: Your images are very narrative, like film stills. Have you ever made a movie?
David Uzochukwu: Thank you! I have never made a film before, but I'd certainly love to in the future. 

David Uzochukwu, Untitled, 2013

David Uzochukwu, Untitled, 2013

KOD: Are there any photographers you admire?
David Uzochukwu: There are tons of photographers I love. Laura Zalenga, Alex Stoddard, Gregory Crewdson, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Lauren Withrow, Alexis Mire... the list is endless. 

KOD: You are still very young, what do you think sets you apart from others your age?
David Uzochukwu: The only thing setting me apart from most of them is that I've actually found an outlet to express myself. Many people just under-estimate children and adolescents. 

KOD: Are you interested in fashion? How would you describe your dress sense?
David Uzochukwu: I am; I feel most comfortable in dark and unobtrusive clothing though. My mum calls me a coward, but I just don't like attention.

KOD: What kind of music do you listen to?
David Uzochukwu: I listen to a mix of everything, from pop and indie rock to hip hop and African music. That keeps it interesting, and results in surprising mood swings on public transport. 

See more of David's work on his website


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