Transient and surreal, capturing the remnants of past meetings and possible future encounters in a shelter used for temporary abode and immediate survival, the photographs from Roger Ballen‘s most recent book Boarding House depict an imaginary child-like space and life 0n the edge.
The photographs will be featured on March1st in a special exhibition at UNESCO in Beirut in collaboration with SOS Children’s Villages and the arrival of the organization’s President, Mr. Helmut Kutin. Part of “The UBUNTU Initiative”, “Ubuntu” meaning “respecting each other” in ancient African, the exhibition mphasizes a common social responsibility towards children and supports the founding of a loving home for every child.
Founded in 1949, SOS Children’s Villages follows the worldwide credo to give every child a loving home endowing them with a happy and memorable childhood. Now an international non-governmental social development organization, SOS Children’s Villages actively promotes children’s rights and welfare in 133 countries.
The Lebanese Association of SOS Children’s Villages began in 1964 and aids abandoned and orphaned children find the security within a new family and home. Children are provided with a mother as well as brothers and sisters regardless of their religion, race, or culture. They are also educated and skilled so that they can then contribute and interact beneficially with society.
Ubuntu is a culture project-initiative which advocates for a better world for children. It specifically emphasizes a child’s inalienable “rights to childhood” in all cultural contexts. The word does not just work towards a child’s survival, but for their ability to thrive in life and in well being.
The unique particularity of the exhibition highlights the importance of joining “childhood” and “art.” Granting children artistic means to explore their self-identity provides them with avenues for self-transcendence. Art allows a child not only to further interact with their environment but to express their emotions, social challenges, and construct their own views of the world around them. Such an imaginative activity provides the child with the necessities to dream and hence to thrive from their own being as well as with those close to them.
Roger Ballen’s photographs are rough and edgy portrayals of what appear to be remnants of childhood abandoned–of children in transient states, desiring to play but also to survive. Such haunting and captivating images echo the need to look more further into the concept of the “boarding house”–into the temporary lodging place on the edge, issues of abandonment and depravity and how perhaps artistic beauty might serve to create a more just society.
- Effigy (2007) by Roger Ballen