Pictures of Children Hardly Ever Fail

There was an article in yesterday’s Times announcing an exhibition of David “Chim” Seymour’s photos at the ICP. Seymour was one of the founding photographers of the respected photo group, Magnum, in Paris, 1945. Many of his photographs taken during World War II contained children. The article discusses how the inclusion of children puts a different face on what one photographs. There are some things that are just universal about the innocence of children that makes such photos appealing. They often add irony, some times they add humor, and often their inclusion makes the image more hopeful. Certainly the inclusion of children can also stress the gravity of a scene or situation. In Havana the play yards for children are in the streets and in the Plazas and Parks scattered throughout the city. In the Plazas the scene is much more middle class seeming, in the street surrounded by the crumbling architecture and potholes, the scene is much more one of poverty–except the kids are the same: happy, shouting, running, and generally having a good time. In the course of a few hours I encountered these scenes among many others of children playing in the Plaza Vieja, one of the busy plazas of Habana Vieja or Old Havana. It is interesting that now so many groups visit ostensibly as relief groups that the children have a lot more toys. I never saw an actual scooter or “blade” in the past, most baseballs were hand-made by rolling tape around compacted paper and bats were mainly sticks with taped handles. Once I looked on in amazement as kids played with makeshift toys, now they have the real thing to play with. That’s another small but tangible sign of progress.

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