My latest object came from Lilia, a specialist in childrens theatre in Algeria. We exchanged a few emails and she sent me some of her photos of children in an Algerian theatre. I chose the one below to share because this frozen moment of life got me thinking and I wanted to share the image and some of my thoughts about how we connect on a global scale through objects.
In one way this photo could be any child, in any theatre, in any country. There is nothing notably ‘Algerian’ about it, which makes it an incredible picture. It says look, here is a child in a theatre - it could be your child in your theatre.
There are several objects in the project that have a similar effect, but on a more personal level. The footballer figurine from Russia is just like what my brothers had when we were kids. The Paua Shell from New Zealand is a twin to the one I found on a beach when I went there on my first big adventure.
Do any of the other 70+ objects evoke memories or connections for you?
These objects are examples of our cultural similarities. Without needing to speak the same language or use the same clothes, they enable us to connect to other people, cultures and countries.
The photo from Algeria is even more powerful when talking about connecting through objects. It’s ambiguity - with the girl facing away, looking at the instantly identifiable classic theatre - means it can speak to more than individuals, I’m not saying the whole world, but enough of us that it could have a real impact on how we perceive different cultures. Algeria is a country I really have no knowledge about, I never see it on the news or have heard about it from other people. This photo allows me to connect to Algeria, to a person in Algeria, doing something I do. Imagine if the media exposed us to our cultural similarities...it could change everything.
Being different isn’t bad, it allows us to identify with others just as much as our similarities do, but I feel that if we continue to focus on our cultural differences more than our similarities, it justifies those that want to draw lines between us and build walls to separate us.
The Travelling Light Project is not meant to be political, it has no secret agenda, nor funders to keep happy, it is an artistic project that asks questions about the world and aims to connect to people and places I don’t know, through their objects and because it is artistic I can ask questions without having to give an answer.
So…what would happen if instead of drawing lines in the sand between one culture and another, we looked at our similarities, at how we too take our children to the theatre, and worked together…
what would the world look like? What could we achieve as one instead of 196?