During a night that lasted a year, I turned the camera on my generation—Generation Y—with flash and insobriety. There I met a fierce energy and impetuous youth, enamored with drunkenness and determined to enjoy their state into oblivion. We talked about love, the warmth of a cuddle and the modern couple. From desire to disillusion, this is the portrait of young adults drifting in the night in search of a few hours of happiness, colliding with what society proposes while consuming feelings, alcohol and the body as though they are a single entity.

I went out at night, skimming bars and meeting a lot of strangers from all walks of life. We talked. I made pictures. They all mentioned—with words, laughter or glances—a certain unease felt in general, a shortage of meaning in their lives, a sense of not finding their place. And I saw in the glasses of alcohol that they emptied in the euphoria of the night that the efforts they make to conjure or celebrate this emotion together, trying to give it a meaning.

The approach I have taken to photograph this phenomenon coincides with my approach to photography in general. They are made of ruptures and imbalances, energy and movement. It is a physical, carnal, incarnate experience that is proceeded by fragmentation, and takes root in the fugacity of the moment. The physical engagement of shooting with the camera, triggering the flash, coming closer and closer to what I photograph, comes from my need to confront the opacity of the world, to dig holes, to touch on the meaning of it all that always seems to shrink away. It was a question of accounting for the discrepancy, the discord, the rupture, and the energy that duality engenders.

—Elie Monferier

Elie Monferier’s series “Forever Y” was a series finalist in our Street Photography Awards 2018. Explore work by all 39 of the winners, finalists, and jurors’ picks.