This piece in the New York Times contains selections from an upcoming book about the lives of children worldwide. When I saw these pictures of children and their bedrooms, I was greatly moved. James Mollison’s exquisite photos let you draw your own conclusions without any commentary, and–boy!–I drew quite a few.
For one thing, you can clearly see the variety of ways in which human beings live. Everyone knows that intellectually, but these pictures really send the message home.
The other thing that becomes immediately apparent is the material simplicity in which many of these children live. In some cases, there is obvious poverty and even oppression (the child in Appalachia, the pregnant 14 y o in Rio and the domestic worker in Katmandu). In other cases, material simplicity reflects a completely different way of seeing the world (Tvika in Beitar Ilit, the two Rendille children in Kenya and 8 y o Kraho boy from Brazil).
Here in the U.S., we see images of perfectly appointed bedrooms with matching furniture, bedding, and decor (there are some of those in Mollison’s photos, too) in Pottery Barn and Ikea catalogs and long for them. We see material excess and long for it. But for the vast majority of children on earth, those perfect bedrooms are impossible to obtain. These photos even make you consider–are they worth obtaining, after all? Is the child on Park Avenue happier than the one sleeping on the bare earth in the Sahara?
Something to think about.
Also interesting is that many of these bedrooms contain no visible reading material.