down with old/young, up with older/younger!

When we’re young, the masses on the far side of some distant threshold are Old. This habit – sorting people into Old or Young - sticks with us as we grow up, and it’s too bad. In an ageist society, the old/young binary consigns two thirds of the population to the less desirable side. The divide also belies experience, because it doesn’t exist. We’re always older than some people and younger than others. Age is a continuum.

That spectrum is the subject of this beguiling 150-second video by Dutch videographer Jeroen Wold, who got 100 Amsterdammers ages one to one hundred to state their age. As it vividly demonstrates, people of the same age can look very different. Like the famous Keeling Curve that measures atmospheric CO2 levels, the movement is inexorably upward but the seasonal variation is vast. 

Both the curve and the variation are very much on my mind these days, as my partner and I swarm, sing, and converse with visitors as participants Tino Sehgal’s “These Associations” in the Turbine Hall of London’s Tate Modern museum. There are 60 to 70 of us in the huge space at any time, ranging in age from late teens to late 70s.  Bob and I are ace storytellers, we can sing well enough, and we’ve mastered all the choreography. We can’t run though, especially not on the Tate’s punishing concrete, and we’re flooded with envy when the youngers take off hell for leather down the 150-meter hall. (Think football-field-and-a-half.) But everyone is friendly, we’re meeting people from all over the place, and we feel hugely lucky to be part of it.