“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you are not close enough.”
By Virginia Valenzuela, Arts Editor
The concept of what is ‘normal’ is informed by where people come from, the history they learned, the foods they ate, the sounds that lulled them or awoke them from sleep. For children across the world who live amid chaos, that idea of ‘normal’ changes with each day. But as documentary photographer Rizacan Kumas shows us, there is still so much to love about life, even when that life is constantly disrupted. As Mr. Kumas told SuperRare:
“When you grow up [in a first world country], you go to school, you have friends, and the biggest sin you might see is cigarette smoke that your parents are trying to hide from you. The biggest thing in your life is trying to learn something. They don’t know about the other side of the coin.”
The people Mr. Kumas documents live in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, places where the sun is blinding, and the reality is too. War, violence, political unrest, displacement, and loss make up the backdrop for so many of his images. But the thing that shines through is not sadness; it is hope, happiness, and childhood wonder. The children featured in his latest drop, “Unrecognized Emotions,” followed him around as he documented the refugee camp in Pakistan where they lived. It was 2018, and they had left their homes in Afghanistan for a chance to live more peaceful life.
“When I was talking to the grown-ups I saw those children following me and giggling with each other. We understood each other, not with the same language, but in an emotional way. I turned to them, smiled at them, and showed with my hand that I wanted to take their picture, and they smiled. They posed like that, in such a natural way. Every child [in the picture] shows a completely different emotion.”
Not fear, not resentment, not envy. The children look into the camera without direction, without care of how they looked or how they would be perceived. These are children who don’t have playgrounds or daycare or even organized schooling. They find adventure, and friendship, in curious places.
“Normal children don’t play in the sewers,” Mr. Kumas told us. “Kids in these areas play in sewers, surrounded by filth, but these kids play in there, live in there, they have fun in there. In the end, they are children. They want to play, they want to learn, they are innocent. When they see someone who comes from another world, they see you with curious eyes.”
Mr. Kumas came to documentary photography because he wanted to share these parts of the world, these untold…
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