Seeing the world through children’s eyes
On behalf of Bayer, photographer Peter Ginter visited eight children in their home countries. He photographed them – together with their works – in their natural environment. At once expressive, pointed and alarming, these photos illustrate how the children are depicting a very accurate image of our world.
Many parts of Bangladesh are below sea level. Global warming is expanding the oceans and the melting of polar ice is an additional threat to the country’s existence. Already, densely populated swathes of land are regularly suffering floods. In a flood plain of one of the many tributaries of the Ganges at Sherasgunge near his home town of Dhaka, the young Zayaan (in the yellow T-shirt) shows that his picture corresponds to reality. People on boats are trying to save their most important possessions. But where will they go?
China, near Beijing. Six men at their workplace, a coal mine. The miners earn their living working in conditions that endanger their health. Between them is young Jiang. The smoke from the chimneys of the power stations in her picture is as black as the workers’ faces. The clouds are weeping, the rain is acid, trees are dying and the people flee the smog with face masks. Her picture is a call to protect the environment – and people.
Lakshmi sits in a half dried-out lake on the outskirts of the south Indian city of Bangalore, a metropolis of 5 million inhabitants where she lives and goes to school. Recently, there has been a frequent absence of rainfall in this region, so the groundwater table has dropped noticeably. In her picture, this young Indian girl uses a collage to represent not only the causes of global warming, i.e. car exhausts and industrial plants, but also the consequences, i.e. melting icebergs and – the opposite of a lack of rainfall – towns flooded by deluges. How do the people react? They sweat and stare in a daze at the steadily rising thermometer.
With a serious expression on her face, Svetlana, a young Belarus girl from Minsk, shows her monstrous-looking picture. Monsters created by people threaten a baby, a symbol of nature. In the background is the Chernobyl nuclear power station. The photo was taken on the edge of a marsh in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park that has been a UNESCO world natural heritage site since 1992. In nearby Ukraine is the real Chernobyl power station – for Svetlana a symbol of how human actions destroy the environment just as climate change now threatens the ancient marsh in the background.
What the people are seeing makes them cry. But the people can see with their own eyes the causes for the warming up of the Earth’s atmosphere, e.g. noxious emissions, so therefore they can change the situation. This is the double message of the picture by young American Renée from the United States who lives with her family in Saratoga, California. She displays her picture in a charred forest near San Diego where a fire rampaged in fall 2007. The fire was triggered by persistent high temperatures and dryness.
“If we destroy the trees, we put our lives in danger,” says Guy, who lives with his family in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. “Without trees, there will be erosion and floods and the people will starve. I wanted to pass this message on.” The winner of the prize for the African region had his photo taken with two friends in the riverbed of the Ntahangwa that flows through his home town. The banks look the way they do today, he says, because of deforestation and soil erosion over the past ten years, which climate change is making even worse. Guy points out a further danger: “If we lose even more land, people will soon be fighting each other for every field.”
Pictures of the 16th International Children’s Painting Competition 2007
Last updated: July 27, 2010E-mail this page