ASÍ SOY YO! Kids’ photography project in Barrio San Cristobal celebrates ‘selfie’ expression

Author of the project: Leah Pattem

All photos in this exhibition were taken by the children using eight second-hand pocket digital cameras from around the turn of the millennium. For many of the children, aged between six and 13 years old, this was the first time they had ever seen one of these cameras, which brought an extra level of magic to the whole photography process.

Before giving out the cameras, I spent some time with the children asking them how they felt and how they would express certain emotions and physical states: “What does happiness look like? How about surprise? What would your face look like if you were trying to be cool or trendy? How does your body change shape when you feel hot or cold, or bored or curious? Ultimately, if this is me, how do I appear?”

Then, their task was simple: to take photographs of themselves and their friends, keeping a focus on self-expression. Facilitated by the excellent teachers of @galgoflaco.educacion, the children set about to capture themselves on camera.

It took a remarkably short amount of time for these children to learn how to use the digital cameras. They were quickly able to take photos but also view and delete the photos they didn’t like. In three sessions of a total of two hours, the children took over 2000 photographs between them.

It took me three full days and nights to select just 60 photos for the exhibition, but the results were spectacular and, above all, seeing how happy the kids were with their photographs was by far the best bit.

Photography levels the playing field, and is an opportunity to express yourself but also the world around you. Photography tells the truth without filters and also gives the opportunity to understand something that perhaps cannot be said in words, which is also especially difficult for migrants when Spanish is not their mother tongue.

Both the process and the outcome of this project has worked for the participating children as a fantastic experience of empowerment and self-confidence.

En una serie de sesiones en el propio Cinesia, el objetivo y las indicaciones se resumen en tomar fotografías de ellxs mismxs y de sus amigxs, centrándose en la autoexpresión, para aprender a utilizar una cámara fotográfica y experimentar libremente con ella. Todas las fotografías de la exposición fueron tomadas por las niñas y niños del proyecto educativo de Galgo Flaco utilizando ocho cámaras digitales de bolsillo de segunda mano de los primeros años 2000. Para muchos de ellas y ellos, de entre 6 y 13 años, ésta era la primera vez que veían una de estas cámaras, lo que aportó un nivel extra de magia a todo el proceso fotográfico.

Enseguida pudieron hacer fotos, pero también ver y eliminar las que no les gustaban. En tres sesiones, tomaron más de 2.000 fotografías de sí mismos. Como se puede ver, los resultados están llenos de alegría.

La fotografía nivela el campo de juego, y es una oportunidad para expresarse a sí mismo pero también el mundo que te rodea. La fotografía dice la verdad sin filtros y también da la oportunidad de entender algo que quizás no puede decirse con palabras, lo cual también es especialmente difícil para las personas migrantes cuando el castellano no es su lengua materna. 

Tanto el proceso como el resultado de este proyecto ha funcionado para las niñas y niños participantes como una fantástica experiencia de empoderamiento y de seguridad en ellos mismos.

ASÍ SOY YO! was created by me, Leah Pattem, as part of Festival Circular 2023, a project involving five artists from @madridstreetartproject who have created community artworks around Barrio San Cristóbal, which you can now go and see!

📸 Photos by @esquie_ @alvarogars @delfina.lamas

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