While searching through old hard drives, I stumbled upon a video from high school labeled "Sociology." It was from a class that I took during my senior year, in 2006, and contained interviews with 10 young women who were my classmates. I asked them all the same questions, as a sort of research assignment:

1. What do you plan to do after you graduate high school?

2. What are your aspirations and goals for the future?

3. Do you plan on getting married? How important is marriage to you? How does it fit into your goals?

4. Do you plan on having children in the future? Is this a possibility or something you feel you must have in your life?

5. Where do you see yourself 20 or 30 years from now? Do you think you'll be working or staying home and supporting a family?

6. Do you feel in any way that your aspirations are limited by your gender? Is there anything you cannot achieve because you are female?

I decided to see if my classmates would be willing to be interviewed again—and to respond to their younger selves. None of them remember what they said in these interviews, so the video acts as a time capsule, capturing the dreams and limitations of 18-year-old women growing up in a very small town in the middle of Massachusetts. The interviews will be combined with collaborative portraits and archival images. Once they are finished, I'll return to the school itself and interview 10 current female-identifying students. I am curious how our notions of gender and ambition have shifted with time, and whether this new generation defines them differently.

2019 - ongoing

Jessica Bal

documentary photographer and filmmaker
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