Shortfilm, 09:45 min., 2022, Germany
Being a teenager – that means experiencing numerous upheavals, transitions, and first times: teenagers prefer to spend time with friends rather than family; perhaps they fall in love; and they are coming to terms with themselves and their bodies. Teenage years are a significant and critical phase of life. During this time, “a room of one’s own” (Woolf 1929) (if granted) becomes an important space in which one’s identity is tested and often materializes for the first time. It is an intimate place of retreat that teens have for themselves where access for parents and siblings is mostly strictly forbidden. Having their own space, maybe even a room just to themselves, allows teens to temporarily escape from what is going on in the world. Especially during the turbulent time of adolescence, this ‘safe haven’ can thus become an anchor point for challenges experienced at school, with family, or outside of their homes.
Here, many things feel free and unlimited. However, during the first lockdowns in the wake of the Corona pandemic, once liberating social spaces shrank to small squares in Zoom rooms. The pandemic forever changed the way we view our home and the functions it often serves. Instead of breaking free and trying out different spatial settings, teens‘ worlds were limited to their own four walls and the nuclear family with whom they mostly still lived. Kitchen tables became work desks, blurred video backgrounds turned into room dividers. Shared lives grew three feet apart.
In Germany, the overall social confrontation with the consequences of especially lockdowns a lot of times focuses on the aftermath of school closings, but takes little notice of young people’s feelings during physical distancing. The importance of personal retreats and their ‘intense interiors’, it seems, has not been considered at all. “The Teenage Lockdown Diaries” turns the spotlight on these ‘lockdown teens’: their carefully curated spaces, personal coping strategies, moments of Weltschmerz and hope. Our project opens the doors to teenage rooms, their everyday lives, and the emotional architectures behind them. It lets young people speak for themselves.
Retrospectively reflecting on the times the virus forced them to stay at home, four teens from all over Germany become filmmakers themselves. Through their own eyes and guided by their voice messages, we learn about the personal pandemic challenges they faced; creative workarounds for comfort and distraction; and what ‘their own space’ meant to them when other (public) places closed down. Like a diary, the teens’ perspectives show how, confronted with the unknown virus and the uncertainty of the time, they had to rearrange themselves, settle in. Despite living life from a distance, the teens managed to build spaces that expanded their own walls: they constructed spaces of (digital) encounters in virtual realms or escaped into other, literary universes, thus – temporarily – overcoming feelings of enclosure, loneliness, and their all-embracing sadness about the state of the world. The result is a DIY cinematic collage: sometimes an invitation, sometimes a sneak peek through the cracked door of a lockdown teenager’s room.
Starring: S., F., H., L. (anonymized) – Danke für Eure Perspektive, Offenheit, für die Einblicke in Eure Welt
Akteurinnen für urbanen Ungehorsam, 2022
Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own. Reprinted. Hogarth Press, 1929.