This contribution was collectively produced by Laura Frasco Zuker, Florencia Paz Landeira, Fira Chmiel, and Valeria Llobet. They are part of the Gender, Childhood and Youth program at the Universidad Nacional de San Martín, where they teach, research, and develop community outreach programs.
This collage was put together from a photo and a drawing. The photo was taken in a rural town in the north of Misiones, Argentina, inside a house located on a dirt road. The drawing was made from an element in the photo, the doll, which invited us to imagine the girls and boys who might be present there and engaged in play.
The objects and materials in this house speak of a situation of precariousness and allude to ordinary crises, in the sense of the various pressures that threaten the maintenance and reproduction of life. Without ignoring the intensities and temporalities of each crisis, here we refer to the way in which they are transmuted into the processes through which daily life is sustained.
These entanglements of crisis and precariousness produce unique ways of facing, navigating and/or resolving such contexts. They constitute, in turn, the environment in which the experience of childhoods is developed, but also the timespace of the real children who were part of the investigations we carried out and were central in our field work. These imaginaries are anchored in a domestic space that does not resemble dominant images of childhood, just like the lives of those real girls and boys who inhabit and move through these houses, streets and forests. This is a domesticity that, in turn, reminds us of what we have in common. There they cook, clean, care and play in intergenerational and more-than-human arrangements.
In the words of Carli (2011), regarding the analysis that she carried out the work of the Argentine painter, engraver and muralist Antonio Berni, the impoverished social origins of Juanito Laguna – one of Berni’s most significant characters – is not an essential and over-powering condition that erases the uniqueness of his childhood. But it does have a quality that makes it possible to account for the complex ways in which “biographical, local, specific elements of childhood as an age experience and general or global elements are linked to both the Latin American territory and the contemporary culture” (Carli: 2011, 65).
The view proposed by Berni and Carli takes us to our intervention in the photo. We sought to show the precarious nature of childhood experiences in Misiones, but without erasing the “common signs” (Carli: 2011): a child’s sensibility and child’s imagination.
This collage – as a material, artistic and conceptual strategy – was put together from a photo, a drawing and an idea: an idea about how precariousness, play and imagination coexist in childhoods.
Carli, Sandra (2011) La memoria de la infancia : estudios sobre historia, cultura y sociedad. Buenos Aires: Paidós Editorial.
Laura Frasco Zuker, Florencia Paz Landeira, Fira Chmiel, and Valeria Llobet, ‘A photo, a drawing and an idea,’ in Reimagining Childhood Studies, 24 May 2022, https://reimaginingchildhoodstudies.com/a_photo/