I’ve just come across James Mollison’s moving photo compilation, Where Children Sleep, from a post on My Modern Met. Mollison traveled the world, collecting wonderfully iconic pictures of children and their bedrooms — and paired each photo with a moving caption. The children tell their own story: from sleeping in plastic covered shacks, with 4 people to a bed, to 5th Avenue NYC penthouses; from aspiring to be a ballerina or fashion designer to hoping to attend school after a third pregnancy; and from longing to escape a tedious 15 minutes of daily homework to escaping drug addiction or the effects of social conflict.
The project became a vehicle to think about poverty and wealth, about the relationship of children to their possessions, and the power of children – or lack of it – to make decisions about their lives,” says Mollison. “I traveled where I could, and many of the pictures result from chance encounters. I hope these images help other children to think about inequality around the world, and perhaps start to figure out how they may respond.
You can read the entire book here.
Jasmine (Jazzy), four, lives in a big house in Kentucky, USA, with her parents and three brothers. Her house is in the countryside, surrounded by farmland. Her bedroom is full of crowns and sashes that she has won in beauty pageants. She has entered more than 100 competitions. Her spare time is taken up with rehearsals, and she practices her stage routines every day with a trainer. Jazzy would like to be a rock star when she grows up.
Nantio, 15, is a member of the Rendille tribe in northern Kenya. She has two brothers and two sisters. Her home is a tent-like dome made from cattle hide and plastic, with little room to stand. There is a fire in the middle, around which the family sleeps. Nantio’s chores include looking after goats, chopping firewood, and fetching water. She went to the village school for a few years but decided not to continue. Nantio is hoping a moran (warrior) will select her for marriage. She has a boyfriend now, but it is not unusual for a Rendille woman to have several boyfriends before marriage. First, she will have to undergo circumcision, as is the custom.
Jamie, nine, lives with his parents and younger twin brother and sister in a penthouse on 5th Avenue, New York. Jamie goes to a prestigious school and is a good student. In his spare time, he takes judo and goes swimming. He loves to study finance. When he grows up, he wants to become a lawyer like his father.
Indira, seven, lives with her parents, brother, and sister near Kathmandu in Nepal. Her house has only one room, with one bed, and one mattress. At bedtime, the children share the mattress on the floor. Indira has worked at the local granite quarry since she was three. The family is very poor so everyone has to work. There are 150 other children working at the quarry. Indira works six hours a day and then helps her mother with household chores. She also attends school, a 30-minute walk away. Her favorite food is noodles. She would like to be a dancer when she grows up.