We'll Be Boys | Jackson Heseltine

We’ll Be Boys is an ongoing photographic series investigating the bridge between adolescence and adulthood and the simultaneously sacred and forbidden aspects of male identity. Like snapshots from a visual diary, the artist’s subjectivity leads the viewers to question whether these are intentional portraits of others, or a reflection of the artist themselves.

Jackson Heseltine (b. 1998) was born into a suburban working class family in the Lower Mainland and conditioned to think that being a ‘man’ constitutes being tough, heroic, dirty, self righteous, and never showing the slightest sign of weakness. Throughout his teenage years, Heseltine began to question these stereotypes through his interest in the arts and popular culture. Due to the seemingly unique standpoint he took in relation to his peers, who were raised with a similar concept of manliness, his intrigue grew more prominent as he felt a distance grow between himself and those around him. Through the ways popular media chose to highlight masculinity and the performative identities of his friends, his view of being a ‘man’ became further distorted. Heseltine’s heightened interest in the behaviour of the young men around him has led to a large body of work comprised of staged photographs that mimic a moment he experienced amongst his peers.

In connection to the interest of becoming a ‘man’, the notion of growth comes into question when thinking upon the idea of stepping out of adolescence and into adulthood. This transition period plays a key role in the artist’s method of thinking and the way he produces imagery. In We’ll Be Boys, Heseltine documents the turmoil of uncertainty: the subjects portrayed unsure about where to go with their lives and how this uncertainty towards the future reflects their everyday. Trying to fill time without the inherent knowledge of knowing why; living moment to moment without the awareness of what the future holds.