|Where Children Sleep, Photographs by James Mollison |
Published by Chris Boot, 2010.
Reviewed by Sara Terry
James Mollison Where Children Sleep
Photographs by James Mollison.
Chris Boot, 2010. Hardbound. 120 pp., 112 color illustrations, 8-3/4x11".
I know I'm supposed to like this book.
After all, James Mollison's portraiture work is widely respected in the art world. His exhibitions are always well-received and he's published several successful books -- including The Disciples, his book about fans of rock bands, which has drawn rave reviews for its clever portrayal of music lovers who mimic their idols. There's also Mollison's strangely intimate project, James and Other Great Apes, which for me is his most interesting work, with its intense close-ups of the amazingly expressive faces of apes.
But there's something about Where Children Sleep that leaves me cold. The book features portraits of children and their bedrooms from 16 countries around the world, including the US, Nepal, Brazil, Senegal, China and Mexico. Each portrait is accompanied with a short text about the child's life, written in a deliberately child-like structure of simple, to-the-point sentences. (The book's intended audience is readers of all ages but according to the cover notes, the text is targeted to nine to thirteen year-olds). Mollison says he hopes, "this book will help children think about inequality, within and between societies around the world, and perhaps start to figure out how, in their own lives, they may respond."
Sara Terry A former staff correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and magazine freelance writer, Sara Terry made a mid-career transition into documentary photography in the late 1990s. Her long-term project about the aftermath of war in Bosnia -- “Aftermath: Bosnia’s Long Road to Peace” -- was published in September 2005 by Channel Photographics, and was named as one of the best photo books of the year by Photo District News. Her work has been widely exhibited, at such venues as the United Nations, the Museum of Photography in Antwerp, and the Moving Walls exhibition at the Open Society Institute. She is the founder of The Aftermath Project (www.theaftermathproject.org), a non-profit grant program which helps photographers cover the aftermath of conflict. She is currently directing and producing "Fambul Tok," a documentary about a post-conflict forgiveness and reconciliation program in Sierra Leone, which recently won a grant from the Sundance Documentary Institute. bosniaaftermath.com