Plutten Venner, Lykken og Ballade - 2015 - (30 x 20 cm)
Children’s book made in collaboration with Sven Drobnitza.
Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 12.1:
States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. The book project Plutten – Venner, Lykken og Ballade is based on the above-mentioned quote, and in the project I wanted to investigate how archival
photographs can work as a platform for different kinds of storytelling and communication. The project was carried through in three
steps: The first two steps involved different kinds of photography workshop (camera obscura, photographing with disposable cameras, etc.), and the children’s book Plutten – Venner, Lykken og Ballade – based on photographs from the local archive in Hjørring – was the third step.
The book is a collaboration between 250 children (5-7 year olds), the artist and illustrator Sven Drobnitza and me. Sven and I met the
children in their daily institutions where we worked in groups. I presented the children to photographs from their (Hjørring‘s) local
historical archive. The photographs were projected on the wall and displayed places the children could recognize, even though they all
had been photographed long before they were born. I also presented the children to a little figure called Plutten, which Sven had drawn, who could do a lot of stuff. While the historical photographs were projected on the wall one at the time, I had a conversation with the children about what might could be happening in these projected sites – and what would happen if Plutten entered them and started out an adventure?
By looking at the photographs, talk about them and use Plutten as a means to enter them, the children created a story, which Sven drew simultaneously directly into the projected images. The children made all decisions about what should happen, what colours to use, what new characters that should be introduced, and they used both words and pointed at the tools and palettes shown in the projected images. Each children group made one double-spread and then the story was passed on as a “baton” to the next group.
Novel interpretations of – but also previous knowledge about – the places presented were activated through an interactive form of
storytelling, in which the visual and the verbal became equally important. Known places, as they look today and how they looked then – now available two-dimensionally in black and white – turned into fantastical sites holding number of possibilities through the eyes of the children. By interacting with the places of the photographs the places were both “reactivated” but also infused with new stories that hopefully – when the children present the finished book to older relatives – also become intermingled with earlier histories and personal narratives. However, equality important was to create an opportunity for the children to define a history that evolved from, and around “their” places, and which they were allowed to define, together collaboratively.