Out of sight, out of mind, the phrase continues to plague my perspective. I suppose that’s why traveling’s so important. And that’s exactly what Kenyan-born, English-raised, Venice-based documentary photographer James Mollison explores in Where Children Sleep – a remarkable collaborative project between him and American journalist Chris Booth capturing the diversity of and, often, disparity between children’s lives around the world through portraits of their bedrooms. The project began on a brief to engage with children’s rights and morphed into a thoughtful meditation on poverty and privilege, its 56 images spanning from the stone quarries of Nepal to the farming provinces of China to the silver spoons of Fifth Avenue.
Perhaps most interestingly, this project was designed as an empathy tool for nine- to 13-year-olds to better understand the lives of other children around the world, but it is also very much a poignant photographic essay on human rights for the adult reader.
One of the more meaningful photo series I’ve come across in a while, these photographs paint a reality that is difficult to depict through words, revealing shocking differences across countries, going from girls with thousand dollar dresses in their private mansions to shepherd boys sleeping with goats.
Read on to let Chris Booth and James Mollison show you where children sleep.
Lamine, 12, lives in Senegal. He is a pupil at the village Koranic school, where no girls are allowed. He shares a room with several other boys. The beds are basic, some supported by bricks for legs. At six every morning the boys begin work on the school farm, where they learn how to dig, harvest maize and plough the fields using donkeys. In the afternoon they study the Koran. In his free time Lamine likes to play football with his friends.