What It Takes to Keep a Young Girl Alive is a diptych of photographs that takes its title from a short story by Jayne Anne Phillips. Whilst being the departing point for creating a link between portraiture, narrative and performance, Phillips' short story functions as fictional milieu for exploring notions of selfhood and subjectivity.
The diptych seizes on the very essence of Phillips' story: the repetitive gestures of menial labour, the dead end job when there should be a future and the withdrawal from the public space to avoid being looked at.
The juxtaposition of the title of the story with the spare photographs succinctly suggests a life of meagre means and a metaphorical expression of a banal and yet tragic predicament. The young girl in the photograph counts and marks the days in the manner of a prisoner. And yet as she does so, she also creates a picture out of the blank wall -perhaps an answer to what could be a question: 'What does it take to keep a young girl alive?'