In this revealing series of photographs, James Mollison invites us into the diverse stories of children in many different countries and circumstances. Each studio-style portrait is accompanied by a detailed study of the child’s ‘bedroom,’ which can range from elaborate sanctuaries to the barest spaces set aside for sleep.
The photographs and their related didactic materials convey the story of a universal childhood, full of insecurity, hope, pain, comfort, and doubt. Economic inequality, children’s rights, and how we are defined by our possessions and formed by our circumstances are some of the complex social, typological, and cultural issues that resonate in Mollison’s work.
The project, in all its diversity, is frankly observant and often surprising. Mollison’s subjects convey the simple truth that all children, whether from a first- or third-world economy, need to be nurtured and protected. His call to action is that we might walk away changed, viewing every child we meet as an individual in need of love and care. As the very concept of sleep and personal space conveys, Where Children Sleep is, above all else, a portrait of vulnerability.
‘As much as the project is about the quirkiness of childhood, it is, more strikingly, a commentary on class and on poverty. But the diversity also provides a sense of togetherness.’ —The New York Times
This exhibition is organized and circulated by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California.
Where Children Sleep: Photographs by James Mollison
is generously supported by an anonymous friend of the museum, in memory of Mary, Herman and Steven.