In my mooning youth I chased clouds like a person with hope does. I felt capable - and even a little confident. Then I circumstantially slipped into an obedient adulthood and forgot what I was doing, what I wanted to be. Like walking into a room and having no recollection of why you’re there, I find myself purposeless and confused. I’ll be paying the bills of my witless youth for the rest of my compulsory life, but at least I have great credit. Monday through Friday, I put on a uniform. I smile when I’m not happy and promise to do things I don’t enjoy. I've withheld the truth 1,305 times when asked how I am, and I forge a face that belies the irrefragable failure I feel with every breath I take. I’ve breathed in and out 6,013,440 times.
For this series, I asked my subjects to wear constrictive polyester suits and I directed them to struggle, to clench their fists, manufacture strained smiles, appear ready to run. I told them they were trapped but had no place to escape to. Maybe I hope that playing voyeur to my own agonies will make them sufferable somehow. Or maybe those agonies will be recognized by you, acknowledged as a rite of life, and then this work will exist for a reason.
Ashley West Leonard, Los Angeles CA