Within the past few years or so, it was a “thing” on the internet to post photos of yourself as a child recreated as an adult. It was funny and fascinating and started from Ze Frank, who made the “Young Me, Now Me” thing that it is today. Now, when you Google Image Search “Young Me, Now Me” and similar items, you get more than what stemmed from this little photographic project: you get numerous people from around the globe posting similar photos they had and recreated in the same vein as Frank.
Entering this conversation is Irina Werning, an Argentine photographer who has done something remarkable with the concept: turned a common internet happening into art with her “Back To the Future” project. Werning has taken photos of friends and family members modeled–to an OCD, polished and cleaned extent–to be exactly as they were as a child. The critique with “Young Me, Now Me” is that a lot of the photos don’t really match up: they aren’t in the same geographic location in the adult photo, the clothing isn’t quite right, and it just feels cheap.
Werning takes her obsession with imitating the past to a new level: she brings the same exact style, clothes, situations, feelings, and makes them very “now.” The then photos still stand as cute and a portrait of time, but the now photos rethink them as almost fashionable: they are richer and a story is imbued upon them. What has happened in this person’s life between photos? What has happened to the place? Were these photos hard to recreate? She nor I have any of those answers, but that is part of the fun of these perfectly executed photos.
As Werning says of the project, “most of us are fascinated by [old photos’] retro look but to me, it’s imagining how people would feel and look like if they were to reenact them today.” The result is magnificent and, thankfully, the project is ongoing. Be sure to check back in with her to see who and what else steps before her lens. (I pray a dog.)