School: Isolation and Boredom




The title of the post is rather pushing the actual content of the images: the first one tends to pop up when blog discussions turn to loneliness, group pressure, shyness, even autism – not necessarily school-based, but still often more critical in an educational environment. I waded through about ten Google reverse-search pages before giving up on a source: but as always, I’d love to give credit where it’s due, so leave a comment if you’re the author, or knows who said author may be.

The second image is by a very well-respected American photographer, Cynthia Henebry, and it’s called “Lizzey in the Classroom” – she says:

“For about a year now, I have been photographing children whose parents are divorced, in each of the homes in which they live as well as in other spaces they commonly inhabit. For now I have chosen to work with girls who look like me and like each other, and who are about the age I was when my parents divorced. The similarities I recognize are as much about their internal qualities as their external ones, and I can usually identify a girl I want to photograph within seconds of noticing her. The photographs function as a form of self portraiture, a way of expressing things now that I couldn’t express then. At the same time, the process is a true collaboration with the girls, and a way for them to express themselves as well. The process of working with a view camera enhances this, and encourages a slow and meditative pace in the making of the picture. With the right subject, it feels clear that we both get something out of making the picture……

…….Like all of the portraits, Lizzey in the Classroom is a combined effort between the subject and myself. I decided where she would sit, moved the furniture, and cracked open the blinds just a bit. She found the posture that felt just right, and fell into the expression you see in the picture. As always, we sat for awhile in silence before I made the shot, waiting for the moment to unfold.

The untied shoelace and broken cookie on the floor were the perfect accidents I only noticed later.”(

….it’s interesting how similar the two girls are physically: both practically dressed, hair tied back out of the way, feet rather self-consciously poised – they’d look good on a soccer team: very different from the onesie-wearing princess/ballerinas from the previous post. That’s obviously not to say that these images define them for ever: while the first image clearly seems to be refering to exclusion from the group, and Cynthia purposefully photographed Lizzey to represent a child of divorced parents, as she herself was – in other situations they could well be happy tutu-wearing fantasists, engaging with other congenial children.

The final image is by Loretta Lux, famous for her hyper-real images of children. This is called “Yanan” (2004). Here’s The Old Reader‘s take on her oeuvre:

“Loretta Lux was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1969. In 1989 she left East Germany for Munich, a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. From 1990–96, she studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. Trained as a painter, Lux began taking photographs in 1999. Although Lux first experimented with self-portraits in works like The Hush (1999) and Self-Portrait (2000), she soon transitioned to images of children and adolescents, typically the offspring of friends who she often used as models. Her subjects, with gazes ambiguously empty yet psychologically activated, assume formal poses and appear in calculated garb and hairstyles. Employing photography, painting, and computer manipulation, Lux alters the images, extracting extraneous details, distorting proportions, and setting the children against mediated backgrounds that exist somewhere between Old Master paintings and cheesy studio-portrait backdrops. Lux’s earliest works set children against icy blue skies, for example in Troll (2000), Lois (2000), and Isabella (2001). In 2001, while the skies continued to serve as backdrops in some works, Lux began to increasingly stage her images within barren pale pink interiors; such images include Hidden Rooms (2001) and Study of a Girl (2002). In several works including The Book (2003), Lux borrowed poses from Balthus, endowing those works with the rigidity and sense of perversion that characterized the French artist’s oeuvre.” (The Old Reader)

….again, this has possibly a limited relationship with school, except I think most people seeing it would imagine a boring school lesson as the context for the image. The sharpness of the detail in the girl’s hair and skin tones in particular is incredible: I’d love an enormous poster, even mural, of it on a wall…

For a small gallery of her work, here’s an example from the “Celebration” Facebook photostream:

[PS, if you look here:

…..there’s a fascinating discussion in the comments section, where “Yanan”‘s stepparent bemoaned the fact that he/she couldn’t afford the manipulated “photograph” Loretta took of the girl – and the answer comes back  that it was on sale the following day, at a “very good price” – unfortunately it all goes back to 2010 (meaning the image was originally taken six years before), so who knows the outcome…]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s