EXIT# 40 About 10, between innocence and tragedy. Childhood is photography’s golden age. It is estimated that the number of photographs of children taken in the history of this visual language far exceeds those on any other theme or genre. Images of children live in family albums, advertising and fashion, the worlds of tragedies and wars. There is nothing more affected than a child in a photograph, however photographs of children have also been used to explore the lost territories of longing and innocence, paradises that we inhabited once, but to which we can never return.
Hugh Cunningham, Emeritus Professor of Social History at the University of Kent and author, among others, of The Children of the Poor: Representations of Childhood since the 17th Century and The Invention of Childhood, traces the limits of childhood, a concept which changes according to the historical and cultural moment, and also defines the different relationships that have existed between the world of the adult and that of the child in western history: from the slave, almost animal-like child, to the princel, an object of desire, the child is a symbol which reflects the anxieties of society like a mirror.
Anne Higonnet, author of Pictures of Innocence: The History and Crisis of Ideal Childhood, Lewis Carroll, and A Museum of One’s Own, has worked for years on the subject of childhood using the images which every social era constructs of its children as a starting point, focusing particularly on those captured moments in which innocence seems to be trapped in the gazes and faces of children from the whole world. The author writes about the biographies we construct of our children, the obsession of many photographers with capturing the essence of childhood through images of their own children.
But, are children actually happy to be photographed? To what extent is childhood just a construction by adults of a perverse memory, of the longing for that which can no longer be recovered, for that which we never had in the first place? The gazes of hundreds of children are trapped like butterflies of a thousand colours in the pages of this magazine which celebrates its 10th anniversary, crossing the line that gradually leads to maturity and leaves behind those early years in which everything seemed possible. Michal Chelbin, Vee Speers, Nicholas Prior, Roger Ballen, Wendy McMurdo, Sergey Bratkov, Clare Richardson, Anastasia Khoroshilova, Anna Fox and Ingar Krauss search for gazes and childhood moments which are sometimes of their own children and at others those of complete strangers.
But there’s more, Sally Mann, Pedro Álvarez, Christer Strömholm, Amy Stein, Lovisa Ringborg, Hellen van Meene, Nelli Palomäki, Loretta Lux, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Miguel Trillo, Tereza Vlcková, Catherine Opie, Jacob A. Riis, Gertrude Käsebier, Julian Germain, Emmet Gowin, Lewis Hine, Helen Levitt, Paola de Grenet, Rineke Dijkstra, Julia Margaret Cameron and, of course, Lewis Carroll.
EXIT # 40 is an anniversary issue, but also a demonstration that childhood does not just mean innocence, but also terror, fear, loneliness, desire, and, above all, the courage to walk towards an uncertain and unpredictable future.
#40 ABOUT 10
Texts: Hugh Cunningham and Anne Higonnet.
Portfolios: Roger Ballen, Sergey Bratkov, Michal Chelbin, Anna Fox, Anastasia Khoroshilova, Ingar Krauss, Wendy McMurdo, Nicholas Prior, Clare Richardson, Vee Speers.
Artists: Pedro Álvarez, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Rineke Dijkstra, Julian Germain, Emmet Gowin, Paola de Grenet, Lewis Hine, Gertrude Käsebier, Helen Levitt, Loretta Lux, Sally Mann, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Hellen van Meene, Catherine Opie, Nelli Palomäki, Jacob A. Riis, Lovisa Ringborg, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Amy Stein, Christer Strömholm, Miguel Trillo, Tereza Vlcková.