“Look at us calmly!” is the message of Andrin, Till, Adiam, and Gia.
The faces of these four children are marked by various skin disfigurations. Their portraits form the basis of a moving photo exhibition organised by the Centre for Children’s Skin in Zurich.
“Very quickly, I only saw the child, and no longer the skin alteration,” says Gabi Vogt, who took some of the photos.
Two other photographers, Gabriela Acklin and Valérie Jaquet, also contributed images to the exhibit which marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Children’s Hospital in Zurich.
The goal of this photo collection is to shine a different kind of light on children who are typically stared at rather than seen. “They don’t want to hide, they want to be visible and to help other children living with the same issue,” said Zurich photographer Vogt.
“We are like just like everybody else,” the photographed children seem to tell visitors at the exhibit.
Connecting with others is what inspires Vogt.
The photographer wanted to see what happens when she focuses her camera on children with such a fragile condition. Some of them, she found, opened up, revealing a hint of their stories – stories that were sometimes painful.
But how children cope with such visible differences – whether a scar, a skin disease, or a birthmark – varies from one child to the other. Each is unique. Some even find that it brings certain advantages.
The photos also force the visitor to ask him or herself the question: how should I interact with people marked by these kinds of disfiguration?
The exhibition “Look at us calmly” runs from September 7 to 23 at the Careum Auditorium in Zurich.