Remembrance of Swings Past
Children’s Photographic Expressions
Footprints in the sand. A really special place behind a rock. The hollow space beneath a table. A creaky swing. What is it that five-year-olds will remember from their life in the early childhood centre?
The exhibition Remembrance of Swings Past is a collaboration between the University of South-Eastern Norway, early childhood centres in the municipality of Horten, and Preus Museum. The aim is to provide insight into the everyday life of children.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child turned thirty in autumn 2019. We celebrate this milestone with an exhibition of children’s photographs of their life in early childhood centres. This gives the youngest children a voice, with the centre as a framework for their childhood, as is the case for most kids in Norway.
Photographs that children take themselves are a good opportunity for getting closer to children’s perspectives, something that is necessary for living in accordance with the articles of the Convention. This requires that adults listen to children and that they want to know what children think and do. Not least, it requires that adults use this insight when they make decisions either along with children or on their behalf.
The children taking part in this project are five years old and will soon begin school. The task they’ve been given is to photograph what it is they will remember from the early childhood centre. The memories the children will carry with them can give us more knowledge about what is important to them. Such memories may well be about something other than what many adults would assume.
The choice of photography as the form of expression lets us look with and not at children. It is the children’s vision of the world we’re interested in. Their photographs provide another type of insight other than what we may achieve when children are primarily the object of the adult gaze. In this project, this difference is shown by the children themselves choosing the subject of their photographs, rather than being the subjects of the adults’ photographs – like they normally are.
Exhibiting photographs taken by children may in itself help realize Article 13 of the convention, concerning the right of children to free expression “either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice”.
The exhibition was presented in a separate section of A History of Photography. The many photographs will hopefully give both children and former children a good deal to talk and think about.
The exhibition copies are sponsored by Preus Pro Lab
I want to see the pictures!
Even though the physical exhibition has ended at Preus Museum, it is still possible to see the pictures. Some of the children even have more than one of their photographs on display in the online exhibition, which is divided into several sections. Click on one of the tabs below – you can move the mouse over the pictures in order to read about them, or click on the pictures to see the text and the pictures in enlarged versions.