The premeditated school photograph documents a person in that time but doesn’t normally function in any other way. The ambiguous context in which these images are displayed initially feels uncomfortable. We feel empathetic toward these strangers on display as we have all sat in the familiar school photograph setting yet there is an interesting discordance in the way we are familiar with the school photograph construct yet it is also generic and distant.
In The Kids Are Alright the source material came from a deceased estate being auctioned on Ebay. The late school teacher had innocently collected photos of children that she taught and documented the name of each child and date on the back. We are used to seeing these reference images in the media most commonly to describe something negative. I purchased these photos around the time of the Sandy Hook Massacre where one of the teachers sacrificed her life to hide the children from the gunman and a collection of cropped school photos were broadcast of the ones who weren’t so lucky.
This work instead celebrates the people who overcome societal failings in order to give so selflessly and acknowledge something positive. The work challenges the initial face value and assumptions we attach to familiar scenarios and suggests alternate readings.