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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

Work / Photography

The Children: a photo series that captures the fear, disorientation and wonder of childhood

The Children is a depiction of childhood; the sweet nature of innocence and ephemeral landscape of youth. This is a photographic series where the most vulnerable aspects of youth are explored, where moments of wonder and engagement with everything new happens at first instinct.

Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky are the collaborative duo behind this series whose work usually sits between the moving and still image. Their film projects have been featured in various festivals, at institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Art, ICA London and Le Musee de la Civilisation. Alongside this, their photographic images have been featured in various publications, including GUP Magazine, Der Greif, FlakPhoto and Slate. In 2015, the duo were invited to guest curate A Photographer’s Eye: Photography & The Poetic Documentary at the Montreal International Documentary Film Festival — a special programme about the intersection between documentary film and photography. This intersection is transparent in their recent work; the way the duo have captured the essence of childhood comes across as a meaningful exploration, but also something that you can’t quite put your finger on.

“Childhood is of course a time of discovery, but also one of intense fear and disorientation,” Brian tells It’s Nice That. “Children seem to possess a heightened awareness of their surroundings, as well as a unique sense of both time and geographic scale.” Within the series, Brian explains how they want to evoke “enigmatic qualities of childhood” in the imagery, as well the wondrous and the more melancholic coming-of-age moments that every child experiences in one way or another.

The natural world is a prominent theme throughout the series, which appears as a “source of both enchantment and menace”. Plenty of grass, a forest, and nostalgic settings decorate the frame of each photograph leaving a huge sense sentimentality for the viewer. Presented with a harsh flash and up-close emotive shots of the subject, it’s hard not to feel something from these images. “We don’t necessarily implement special techniques in a pre-meditated way while photographing,” says Brian. “From the outset, however, we did like the way that the use of flash, especially during daylight hours, lends a certain dramatic urgency as well as a feeling of disquiet.”

“It’s hard to speak concretely about what exactly binds a series of images. It’s largely a process of intuition,” Brian continues. Although slightly misplaced and unstructured in places, the flow of the series provokes an aura of dreamlike bliss; described as ‘dream logic’ in the duos’ artist statement, this is purely intentional and allows the viewer to delve deeper into the hidden aspects of the series. “There is a vivid yet fragmentary way in which images reach us while we sleep, that are at once enigmatic and resonant,” says Brian. “In our work, we often look to arrange things in such a way that the more mysterious aspects of the images remain intact.”

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children

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Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky: The Children