All images © Karen Marshall from Between Girls
Between Girls is the new photobook by New York City photographer Karen Marshall published by Kehrer Verlag.
Initially this project started in 1985 as a short-term 35mm black and white photography project documenting the teenage female friendships. But it expanded into a thirty-year meditation on friendship, later including audio, video, and ephemera. This book marks its closing chapter.
The project was sparked in the autumn of 1985 when Marshall met Molly Brover, a bright, exuberant 16-year-old high school junior, and asked if she could photograph her and her friends. Molly invited the photographer into her world in which Marshall witnessed her ever-rotating group of girlfriends, spending time with the teenagers on a regular basis and documenting the everyday rituals of their friendship.
Karen described Molly as a “dark and cinematic teenager” making her the perfect poetic muse to Karen’s lens.
A year later, Molly was tragically killed in a car crash aged just 17. Karen’s work beautifully immortalized the teenage muse and her vivacious vibrancy. While devastated, Karen decided to keep the project going. While Molly would remain 16 forever, the other girl’s would grow up and this break in continuity among the girls inspired her to continue to document them in various ways over the years to come.
Karen followed the group all over New York. On subway trains, on the city streets, in Central Park, and at various parties over the years. It was clear that the death of Molly had brought the girls closer together. Karen believes their story is something unique yet one we can all relate to: “Understanding the rituals of friendship and the emotional connection we establish in our lives is the foundation that supports our sense of identity and the meanings found in belonging to one another that reaches beyond gender, class, and culture. At a time of forced isolation because of a global pandemic, a documentary about the importance of our connections to one another could not be more paramount” says the photographer.