The images are arresting, the colours jump, the expression on the faces are deadpan and the photos are meticulously detailed, but do they cross the line? Photographer Jonathan Hobin places children in meticulously staged vignettes of media saturated events such as Abu Ghraib and the Jon Benet Ramsay disappearance.
His message is that kids can not be shielded from the news and the playroom becomes a space where they actively engage with the images and messages of current events and media.
He is right; even if they don’t know the details of the story kids understand when there are big issues being discussed in the news. Our emotional responses to the media are incorporated into the way our kids view the world. You will hear them working through it as they play. My daughter still plays earthquake with her dolls.
Even though I see the artist’s viewpoint, I don’t think I would have put my child into those photos. The kids probably did not understand the emotional weight of the picture that was being taken but as time goes on they will. Would I really want my daughter staged as Jon Benet? Not really. But I would stand up for the parents who did choose to have their child’s picture taken.
I was put off by the photos when I first looked at them but as I gave them a second chance I appreciated the juxtaposition of the innocence of the children and the horror or cynicism of the event.
What do you think?