Where Children Sleep

A friend sent me a link to this interesting project by photographer James Mollison who lives in Venice, Italy.  From an article in the New York Times: “Mr. Mollison’s new book, “Where Children Sleep,” had its origins in a project undertaken for a children’s charity several years ago. As he considered how to represent needy children around the world, he wanted to avoid the common devices: pleading eyes, toothless smiles. When he visualized his own childhood, he realized that his bedroom said a lot about what sort of life he led. So he set out to find others.”  

In looking through a selection of the photos chosen for Mollison’s book, I found myself in turn appalled by extreme overindulgence and extreme lack of what we Americans consider “necessities.”  You know what I mean: An insulated home that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter; a bed for each child and a nice big one for the parents/guardians – sometimes even a separate room for each child; comfortable mattresses with as many blankets as one needs to feel cozy and as many stuffed animals as one needs to feel surrounded and safe; carpet on the floors (except where we choose to install expensive wood flooring); posters and pictures on the walls; a roof that doesn’t leak; a separate room we call “the living room”; an entire open, bright space with plenty of electrical outlets for us to prepare complete meals three times a day; locks on the doors to protect everything important to us.

I guess I shouldn’t be too critical of this – I cherish a lot of privileges, too, and I do consider locks on my doors (and windows) a necessity.   We all have a standard of living we get used to and everyone aspires to improve whatever situation they are in, be it a penthouse in New York with a summer home in Spain or a couple of trash bags rigged up with sticks to offer two square feet of shade as relief from the 100+ degrees of the desert in July.

And really, this project is really quite interesting.  It tells compelling stories with just a couple of photos, and it demonstrates the complex issue of differing culture and lifestyle in simple, easy-to-understand format.  Here are a couple of examples; view the whole gallery to see more.

Four-year-old Kaya, who lives in a small Tokyo apartment with her parents.

Kaya’s bedroom.

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