David Seymour: Children of Europe
As human beings, we are often compelled to change. We reflect on our current states, physical, psychological, social, and we assess what needs to be done in order to reach the ultimate goal: self actualization and transcendence of self. But how do we get there? What must be brought to light in order to illuminate our need for change?
We walk past homeless people very day and we may feel compelled to give them a dollar but then we don't out of fear they will use it on drugs. Or we do anyway and hope that it is used for good. We buy Nikes knowing they are made in 3rd world countries by overworked children in cancerous conditions who's poverty is used as an excuse to underpay them.
We throw away our left over food because we are too full to keep eating and too lazy to cary a to go container all the way home. God forbid our fingers get cold from holding food we don't immediately want.
David Seymour challenges our indifference to our privileges by photographing humans in conditions paralleled to our deepest nightmare. And not just humans, but children. It is one thing to see your fellow man suffer, it is another to see a child plagued with a struggle they do not deserve to be burdened with.
We see adults in despair and we blame them for some fault along the course of their life. Their laziness, their mental health issues, their attitude is what makes them homeless or drug addicts, or both. But when we see kids in this same light, we understand that it is not their fault that they are in such an undesirable position. We do not blame them for their lack of resources. We feel for them and desire to make the world better so that our children do not suffer. This in nature is selfish. We see our peers struggle but they are not our own and do not have the potential to be our own so we do nothing. But most people have the potential to have kids, and nobody wants their kids impoverished.
This image depicts 5 children sleeping under one blanket in one bed. They seem comfortable and at peace. The image in and of itself does not show the strife of the situation. However, when contextualizing the image, one must ask "is this the only bed that they have?" And when one asks that, one can't help but wonder "is there only one room." This question is framed so tightly it leaves the viewer wondering what is beyond thee margins and in this way, it is extremely powerful and provocative.
In this image we see two boys covered in grit from their job. The one in the back has it arranged in a manner in which it presents like a beard. This was most likely unintentional if they documentary photographers style is to capture reality and not alter anything pre or post shot. This sends the message that working as a child accelerates your growth and confirms the expression "grew up too fast." These boys have been robbed of their childhood and from the looks in they eyes, it is not wroth it.
Here we have toddlers begging for money. Too young to work but too old to stay stagnant in an environment where all hands are needed, these children have resorted to asking for hand outs in order to feed themselves and their family. The only one who has a hint of the smile seems to be the youngest and therefore his position can be attributed to his innocence. The rest, although not much older, seem to have already lost theirs as they lean against this wall with their empty cups and scrubbed shoes. Again, the tight crop of this images leaves you wondering what more exists beyond its margins.
Here is an image with even less context than the rest of them. Boys. Seas of boys with shaved heads, some with scars. What happened that left them like this? In my opinion this is one of Seymours most provocative images because of his ability to capture these boys, conscious of the camera, yet in a natural state of being. Just existing. Some look sad, some look determined, some look scared, but they are looking. Staring the photographer and the viewer of the photograph directly into the camera, directly into the eyes. And it is powerful. Not knowing where these boys are from or how they have come to exist in such a way, I am compelled to not only understand why, but how to remedy their pain.
In totality, David Seymour has an extraordinary ability to have his subjects look into the camera yet remain themselves. Possibly because the ego of man has not manifested itself in youngsters quite yet. They don't feel the need to mask who they are because they are still trying to figure that out. There is no need to put on a front in the face of a camera because they are not trying to contort societies perception of them as adults constantly do. They are just existing as they are, as they have been. And the representation of their struggle is