I have a soft spot for children. I always have and I always will. I desire most to attempt to protect their innocence, simply because it is irreplaceable and invaluable.
A basic human need, such as sleep, can be compromised by conditions. Many of us have preferences for our sleeping conditions. But, what about the people, especially children, who have very few, if not any, preferences simply because they have no other option? James Mollison captured thirty-six photos of children, ranging from ages four to fifteen, and the places where they sleep in his photograph essay “Where Children Sleep.”
What made Mollison’s artwork so exquisite is his use of a uniform and distinct pattern by placing the photograph of the child — with a white/gray background — on the left of his or her place to sleep, which were all very diverse. It was quite difficult to choose just one photo that was “particularly challenging or compelling” because each photograph truly captures a story.
“Roathy, 8, Phnom Pnh, Cambodia”
Firstly, the shot of Roathy is defined as medium — with a trash bag of cans strewn over his shoulder, safely presuming, that he collected and will be using them to generate some form of revenue or income. Though not closely positioned to his face, this is definitely a portrait shot. We learn intimately who Roathy is from this shot with his ribs pressing lightly against his thin, bronzed skin and simple haircut. Secondly, the photograph of Roathy’s place of rest is the establishing shot. This photograph adds an extra explanation to his appearance. The most symmetry about this photograph is the four tires placed adjacently to one another. The structure is weak but the drapes/coverings are strategically arranged for a makeshift window. Dirt fills the tires to make a more leveled and usable area. The one sheet in the photograph seems to be just large enough to cover Roathy’s eight year old body.
This photograph tells a story about a boy living in Cambodia’s capital who works harder than he should. Roathy is prepared to become a man. The stern look on his face accompanied by the desolate sleeping conditions will give Roathy the ability to transition into adulthood much sooner and easier than what I can ever fathom. As a viewer, it saddens me that a child has been exposed to the harsh realities of the world at such a tender age. It makes me wonder if he will ever get to experience having the luxury of sleeping in an actual bed under an actual roof. This photograph adds to the entire essay by showing an overdeveloped child in the midst of his childhood in a “foreign” nation. Not that I was entirely unaware of how children have to live all over earth, it just breaks my heart to know I can’t cook for, bathe them and provide for them all — I can’t give all children a jump start in life. I feel as close to dead as possible on the inside knowing this fact.
What can I do to make sure there are no more destitute children inhabiting earth?