other people's contexts

I keep coming back over and over to this site with a selection of photographs from James Mollison's Where Children Sleep. He photographed children's sleeping areas from all over the world, from all levels of wealth and poverty, as well as (separately) the children themselves. Bedroom of a Harlan County 8-y-o from James Mollison's Where Children Sleep.

Some of the sleeping areas are heartbreaking (a couch outside in a Brazil slum, a chicken wire shed in the West Bank), some just, wow: a Tokyo 4-year-old's perfectly ordered paradise vs. seriously, a teenager, even a Kyoto teenager, lives in this ravishingly austere Zen bedroom; and a Kentucky boy's room fully armed and camouflaged.

Beyond the immediate surface impression of "boy, some people have money and some do not" -- and don't get me wrong, that's huge -- what brings me back to these is the detailed, lived-in weirdness of each of these places. It's like when you visit a friend's house as a kid and notice only all the things they do wrong. Cloth napkins? Weird; we use paper. Peas in the beef stew? UGH. Wrong.

Other people's contexts are so much stranger than people themselves. Especially children's, or maybe that's just because these chlldren are the age I'm writing for now. I can't get past these photos. I don't have anything smart to say, just wanted to point this site out. You can buy his book, too.