You don’t exactly need to be a mother to know that children grow up fast — and not in the hypersexualized sense of the word either. It’s a trite comment to make when telling a kid you haven’t seen in awhile “you’re so big!” My own smart-assed inner elementary school dialogue would often respond to such comments with “well what do you expect me to do? Get smaller?” But the observation is nevertheless startling every time.
Anyone who has ever had kids or loved a child knows that the paramount hope is always that they do grow up. But the process by which they achieved that milestone — a birthday, a driver’s test, a communion, always seems so much faster than anticipated. Such a sentiment is beautifully distilled in Feist’s “Bittersweet Melodies” video, which uses the series “Back To the Future” by photographer Irina Werning. Wernig artfully tampers with time by re-photographing subjects in their childhood likeness, pose, background, outfit and all.
Her ambitious work distills what many photographs often cannot in just one image: the passage of time. The work invites an array of interpretations, but my personal one as I click through old ballet photos and quick beach snapshots is that the next time you turn around, the child you photographed is hardly a child anymore.