island kids tell vivid stories with pictures
|A thousand words:
A picture by 10-year-old Dinh Thi Diem Trinh is among those on display
at the exhibition.
HA NOI — Visitors gather
around a series of colour photos pasted on the side of plastic boxes filled with
water. They listen to the stories of children living on the isolated islands of
Diep Son and Ninh Tan in the central coast province of Khanh Hoa, as part of an
exhibition entitled Water Droplets.
More than 100 photos and
pictures were created by 46 primary-school children, aged from 8-14, as part of
the two-month Support to Marine Aquaculture (SUMA) project. The children were
given cameras and crayons and told to capture their dreams and desires.
"My visits to the
islands have changed my view about the range of lifestyles in Viet Nam. The
islands are only a few kilometres from the mainland but the value placed on
time, access to information and belief is worlds apart," said Tran Luong,
one of two visual artists who ran the project on the islands.
"I found that
children on the islands were suffering from serious disadvantages: lack of
information and education and poor living conditions. Their ability to express
themselves both verbally and in writing is very limited. When they were given
the tools to show their artistic ability, love and knowledge, it became obvious
to me that they are innately excellent children – pure and honest with dreams
of brighter future," he added.
"The photos on
display are some of the most natural and vivid images I’ve ever seen," a
74-year-old visitor to the exhibition said.
Besides taking the photos,
the children were asked to talk about what they shot.
"I don’t know why I
took all the photos on an angle, but I found it quite interesting. Perhaps I had
seen it somewhere before. I will hang the photos of my mom standing next to the
boat, of our garden and of the pier in Diep Son on my wall after the exhibition
is finished," nine-year-old Pham Thi Hong Ngan said.
The character of children
was not only reflected in their photos but also in their words. "Without
these photos, I wouldn’t have known how beautiful the scenes of my house
looking out to sea and the boat carrying straw from the mainland so that we can
feed the cows are. I also took a photo of Cuc whom I feel pity for, I often take
her to bathe in the sea," 11-year-old Pham Thi Phuong said.
Water Droplets is the
result of SUMA’s "photovoice" project, which is co-funded by the
Ministry of Fisheries and the Danish International Development Assistance
conceived by Caroline C Wang and Mary Ann Burris in the early 1990s. Essentially
the process involves "the possibility of perceiving the world from the
viewpoint of people who lead lives that are different from those traditionally
in control of the means for creating images of the world".
Through the project, SUMA
wants to find out children’s thinking, desires and hopes, to know if they want
to stay on the islands to contribute to the development of their homeland or go
elsewhere in search of a better life and to understand what they think about
their life and their family’s life.
Water Droplets, which
includes 50 installations symbolising water droplets and the soul of the
children, runs until next Monday at Exhibition House 29 Hang Bai Street, Ha Noi.