Photographic essay – Where Children Sleep

Indira, 7, Kathmandu, Nepal (James Mollison)

This is Indira, 7, from Kathmandu in Nepal. She lives with her parents, brother and sister in a house which has only one room, with one bed and one mattress. Indira has worked at the local granite quarry since she was 3. And this is where she sleeps

Where Indira sleeps (James Mollison)

images ⓒ James Mollison

Where Children Sleep is an evocative photographic essay by Kenya-born and Italy-based English photographer James Mollison which relates stories of diverse children from around the world through portraits and pictures of their bedrooms.

By juxtaposing images of children, literally worlds apart, Mollison suggests a child’s bedroom speaks volumes about his or her circumstances, strategically photographing them all in the same way to show just how different they can be.

You can experience more of Mollison’s 56 evocative diptychs below, as well as in his book of the same title, Where Children Sleep, which was released about two years ago.

Of his project, Mollison says:

When [I was asked] to come up with an idea for engaging with children’s rights, I found myself thinking about my bedroom: how significant it was during my childhood, and how it reflected what I had and who I was. It occurred to me that a way to address some of the complex situations and social issues affecting children would be to look at the bedrooms of children in all kinds of different circumstances. From the start, I didn’t want it just to be about ‘needy children’ in the developing world, but rather something more inclusive, about children from all types of situations. It seemed to make sense to photograph the children themselves, too, but separately from their bedrooms, using a neutral background. My thinking was that the bedroom pictures would be inscribed with the children’s material and cultural circumstances, the details that inevitably mark people apart from each other, while the children themselves would appear in the set of portraits as individuals, as equals,  just as children.

Mollison explains that the book is written and presented for an audience of 9-13 year olds, intended to interest and engage children in the details of the lives of other children around the world, and the social issues affecting them, while also being a serious photographic essay for an adult audience. Here are more selected images:

images ⓒ James Mollison

So do any of these images resonate with you? Where did you sleep when you were growing up… did you have your own room or did you share one? Did it look like any of the rooms where these children sleep? Do share your thoughts!

8 thoughts on “Photographic essay – Where Children Sleep

    • It’s a really thought-provoking series, isn’t it… I’m delighted it resonated with you, Barbara – thank you for dropping by…
      Susie

  1. Amazing blog ,the little girl’s picture reminded me of my childhood.In the Middle-East, we didn’t have one.l began to work to help the family of 9 when i was 10 years old .The United Nation is not doing enough to protect the children.Best regards. Jalal MIchael

  2. These photographs tell an amazing story. The feature picture of the little girl with the hammer is absolutely stunning. Thank you for sharing this story!

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