A Two-Point Perspective on “The House is Small but the Welcome is Big”

“The House is Small but the Welcome is Big” photography benefit show explores the daily lives of 15 women and children in Africa. Each photograph, taken by a child from Mozambique or a woman from Cape Town, is a documentation of their lives, all of which are affected by poverty and/or disease. So what makes these photographs so interesting and powerful? I’ll answer that question with yet, another question: Would you be able simply to shoot photographs of your family, your friends, your town, etc. and be able to capture and convey your daily struggles, triumphs, thoughts, and emotions? It is the two-point perspective in these photos– that of the women and children photographers and that of the viewer — that makes these photos so remarkable.

Remember, these African women and children were simply trying to document their day to day lives. As the photos show, this includes everything from bathing to cooking to shopping to playing to spending time with friends and family. However, some photos show a collection of medicines for HIV/AIDS and children at graves mourning the deaths of their parents. With these photos, the women and children are still documenting the darker side of their everyday existence. Disease, poverty, and death have become the norm to these African communities, and unfortunately, remain a part of everyday life. And yet, we also see more positive photos that show the love between a man and a woman and boys playing games in the sand — all of which are indicative of the joy and contentment experienced in the daily lives of these remarkable photographers.

It is our (the viewers’) emotional responses that also prove the powerfulness of these photographs. While the photos may be simply documentaries, we are able to see and understand the continuous struggle to provide enough food for a family, the daily battle against disease, and the constant pain of losing a loved one. It is the fact that these women and children were able visually to capture their daily lives and, in so doing, allow us to understand those daily struggles that makes these photographs so extraordinary.

Author: Rachel

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