is an on going series that highlights the cultural significance of prom on the south side of Chicago and makes visible robust community celebration and joy surrounding this event.
While custom fashion is the entry point to Cooper’s series, titled The Audition, the central theme of the project is her exploration and focus on adolescent psychological development. Through these photographs of young men and women, in both private and public space, Cooper explores three stages of adolescent development outlined by behavioral scientist Erik Erikson in Childhood and Society. The egocentric state, the imagined audience and the personal fable are variations of an imagined reality in which the teenager is the center of attention. As the teenage matures these fantasies melt away and the adult emerges as one who is able to manage outside attention realistically. The Audition depicts the physiological space of the dissolve, where attention is no longer a fantasy, instead a reality that can be controlled by the performer.
All prom gowns represented in these images are made by designer Suzette Opara.