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Doug DuBois on My Last Day at Seventeen

Doug DuBois was first introduced to a group of teenagers from the Russell Heights housing estate while he was an artist-in-residence at the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, on the southwest coast of Ireland. He was fascinated by the insular neighborhood, in which “everyone seems to be someone’s cousin, former girlfriend, or spouse. Little can happen there that isn’t seen, discussed, distorted beyond all reason, and fiercely defended against any disapprobation from the outside.” DuBois gained entry when Kevin and Erin (two participants of a workshop he taught) took him to a local hangout spot, opening his eyes to a world of not-quite-adults struggling—publicly and privately—through the last days of their childhood.

Over the course of five years, DuBois returned to Russell Heights. People came and left, relationships formed and dissolved, and babies were born. Combining portraits, spontaneous encounters, and collaborative performances, the images in My Last Day at Seventeen exist in a delicate balance between documentary and fiction. A powerful follow-up to DuBois’ acclaimed first book, All the Days and Nights, this volume provides an incisive examination of the uncertainties of growing up in Ireland today, while highlighting the unique relationship sustained between artist and subject.

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