jonathan hobin: in the playroom jonathan hobin: in the playroom
apr 24, 2011

jonathan hobin: in the playroom

‘in the playroom’ by jonathan hobin (above) ‘the twins’ image © jonathan hobin

‘in the playroom’ by canadian photographer and art director jonathan hobin is a series of images that depict children reenacting major current events and headlines of our time. including major news items such as 9/11, hurricane katrina, the north korean missiles, and the jonbenét ramsey trials, the collection juxtaposes the often devastating themes with the high-spirited setting of a kid’s playroom. 

utilizing relevant props – dolls, plastic toys, stuffed animals – with bright and playful backdrops, the images are eerily innocent and unsettling in their motif. at once bold and uncomfortable, the series delineates the question of how far our current cultural climate alters and infiltrates our society. 

‘a boo grave’ image © jonathan hobin

‘dear leader’ image © jonathan hobin

‘boxing day’ image © jonathan hobin

‘vegas wedding’ image © jonathan hobin

‘white nights’ image © jonathan hobin

‘diana’s dead’ image © jonathan hobin

‘american idol’ image © jonathan hobin

’39 lashes’ image © jonathan hobin

‘the saints’ image © jonathan hobin

‘spring break’ image © jonathan hobin

‘seal heart’ image © jonathan hobin

  • WOW

    ILIKE says:
  • Excellent et original

    bruno says:
  • amazingly ballsy. Seriously

    lobsterocket says:
  • Somehow it hurts me to look at these images.
    It’s a bit obvious…perhaps its has to do with a combination of being a parent and living close to Ground Zero?
    Never thought I would feel this way but…the imagery actually pisses me off.
    Good job,

    TBC says:
  • Fantastic!!!

    fetapapa says:
  • Some of these make me think of the music video of [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CxKA1uETxE]Serj Tankian’s Empty Walls[/url].

    WeAreGeek says:
  • interesting!

    frank yi says:
  • Brilliant play around ethics, incredibly professional kids!

    mb says:
  • I don’t even know what to say… other than this is disturbing..

    Sami says:
  • dumbfounded.. this is really tasteless

    AMERICA says:
  • I think it’s beautiful. Eerie is the perfect word to describe it, but it’s beautiful all the same. Kids are becoming increasingly aware of the doings of the world…tragic, politically incorrect or otherwise…

    abby says:
  • Can´t understand parents – who allows take such kind of photos of their children…

    Someone.. says:
  • horror…

    j.g. says:
  • ROTFLMAO!

    ar303 says:
  • Seriously disturbing!!!

    Ayla says:
  • A big NO! Video games and TV news fret our kids already – why have them role-playing this horrible events?

    Vania/Brazil says:
  • There’s a not-so-fine line between artistic and exploitative. Guess which side you’re on?

    R says:
  • Disturbing? Life is disturbing. All these things happened. Children are watching their parents either do them, or just sit complacently in front of their TVs being told what to think and what to buy.

    We can learn a lot from our kids… they haven’t been jaded by the artificial structure which we’ve created. You want to protect them from these images? Then don’t let things like this happen.

    redmtl says:
  • this whole collection is beautiful..
    dont listen to those people! yeah it makes me sad and even sick, but the point is so strong and clear.

    man… we live in a disgusting world and the worst part is what may happen with this up and coming generation.

    audrey dean says:
  • Incredibly eerie, thought-provoking, creepy.

    If you’re bothered by this collection, good. You obviously got the point.

    Holly says:
  • It’s like people forget what they were like at this age
    Children don’t need to live in nice little sheltered bubbles. I’m sure children at that age have heard and understand these events happened.

    evee says:
  • There is an obscenity to some of these images which I find extremely depressing. I do not like to see children exploited. They already will be exposed to horrors on a regular basis in this century, which I could not imagine when I grew up. But, to put things “en scene” in this manner, gives me the disturbing feeling that we are dealing with muddled motives on the part of the “artiste”.

    peen says:
  • does anyone mind giving a list of the events that each photo pertains to?

    andy says:
  • I think it is a statement about how everyone who was involved in these acts was once a child and it made me think about the journey of each actor and wonder what road led them to where they got involved in these situations.

    Skillz says:
  • Everyone who is coming on here and bashing these photos due to their content being inappropriate to the very children in these photos… IS THE VERY REASON THEY WERE MADE. CLOSED MINDED INDIVIDUALS SUCH AS YOURSELF ARE TOO SCARED TO RECOGNIZE THE HARMFUL EFFECT OF ADULT BEHAVIOR. THE POINT IS… THAT’S WHAT OUR LEADERS AND NEIGHBORS ARE… AND IF THEY DON’T STOP THAT’S WHAT CHILDREN WILL BE. HOWEVER, YOU’RE TOO STUPID BECAUSE YOU BUY INTO THE ENTRAPMENT RHETORIC OF THE REPUBLIC PARTY… SO THE ENTRENCHED BILLIONAIRES CAN KEEP TWISTING YOUR BRAINS.

    Sam says:
  • ooh. how controversial… as well as wanky and self endulgent. I really dont see the relevance. the events themselves were already disturbing enough. why find the time to make them more so? as if there is more to learn because kids are rollplaying. totally agree with the comment about parents letting their kids reinact these events too.

    ricky says:
  • Ah! the conundrum! being so close minded that you assume that everyone who holds a differing opinion from you must be close minded!

    The human experience includes some pretty horrendous things – that’s just the nature of humanity.
    its not wrong to shield children from as much of it as possible….or at least try not to trivialize, minimize, or desensitize them to those events.

    And while I applaud what you are trying to do artistically,those children ARE being exploited regardless of how close minded you think someone is for saying so. There is no way that they have the life experience necessary to determine for themselves if they are ok with trivializing events that have such horrific impact of so many.

    but, tbh, I’m not sure whether or not that exploitation is any worse from other types of exploitation that children across our globe experience.

    anya says:
  • Never apologize for your art, especially when it’s this great.

    JB says:
  • disturbing. disappointing. these images made me sad.

    ec says:
  • These images are disturbing because they happened. It wasn’t kids who flew the planes, it isn’t kids who lead others to death. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t victims of these events. I remember exactly where I was on September 11th, and make no mistake I was a kid. Not even 12 yet. But I knew what was happening, and these kids do too. Life happens, and children are often more observant than adults. At least they keep their curiosity.

    James says:
  • You people judging the artist by letting kids be in these photos are just silly.

    Those kids did not fly a plane into the world trade center, nor did he kill and cut open a seal. Get over yourselves and worry about something crucial for a change.

    Leave art alone; it’s the only thing left that makes sense in the world.

    Kelby says:
  • having been pregnant and trapped and after falling down flights of stairs to get to safety during 9/11 I find these pictures a bit insensitive. I get that the artist is trying to be provocative and innovative but they are just obvious examples and fall flat. I get the idea of conveying what happened and believe me, seeing people jump to their deaths fromyour window and then fleeing for your life when your office windows implode can change your perspective, it’s not my intention to make anyone feel guilty but I just think that all these situations affected its victims in a visceral way and the subject matter should have been treated with a little more relevance and respect not to mention that children should never be exposed to this sort of violence and tragedy for arts sake.

    Dalma Ward says:
  • People really believe that this is showing how kids can understand these events? No one as young as these kids will be able to grasp any of this.

    Caleb says:
  • RE: Caleb – Never underestimate the kids. They understand more then you think.

    sayed says:
  • what’s actually disturbing is our insistence that shielding children from this stuff is the right thing to do. Perhaps if we start young, they will be prepared to change the world by the time they are old enough to truly grasp the tragedies of the world…but let’s be honest, will any of us be old enough to truly grasp them? We need children to understand that bad things happen because they are the ones inheriting the world and all of its problems…so give them a little more credit.

    sarah says:
  • Also, the artist is trying to make a point; a point that seems very much in favor of protecting our children

    sarah says:
  • The way I have interpreted what this artist has done is that if we find the image of children doing these things so disturbing, what makes it okay for adults to do it?

    All these horrible things happened, but if people always approached everything with the innocence of a child then they would not have. We’re so upset with what he’s shown because the photos contain children, but if they contained adults the reaction would be a lot different.

    And talking about whether or not the children can understand these events: I’m an elementary school teacher – yes, they understand. They understand a lot more than we ever think they do or even want them to.

    Laura says:
  • This collection is beautiful. Very poignant.

    For those of you who say that kids should be shielded from these events, you went through events like this too when you were a kid. We all did. There are huge tragedies for every generation. Children aren’t that breakable. We’ve made it through hundreds of years before people decided kids needed to be shielded. They’ll be fine.

    emily says:
  • Am I the only one who doesn’t think the kids in these photos will be in the least affected by the photo shoots? Surely these kids have all done modelling before, and for them it’ll just be a fairly dull process involving standing in exactly the right pose with exactly the right expression, holding props. I don’t think they’re going to be thinking deeply about the content or messages of the photos. Besides, kids inevitably include make-believe violence in their play, so it’s not like they’re going to be shocked by having to pose in any of these photos (which, by the way, mostly don’t include any overt, explicit references to violence). This is only exploitative in as much as using minors as models ever is. I think the argument over whether children should be shielded from knowledge about tragedies and violence is relatively irrelevant to this.

    As for whether these photos trivialize the events they depict or are insensitive to the victims: I can understand that a victim of one of these tragic events would find any representation of it (whether documentary or artistic) painful, but these are events that are important to the whole of Western (or even global) society, and are important parts of world history, and so dialogue about them is necessary.

    John says:
  • I don’t get it. Children exploited? Innocent? The reality here is the artist isn’t the one that shows them the images for the first time. They already are familiar with the images and stories.
    It’s nothing new to them, some children even knew what was supposed to happen. It’s already in their minds. And what is in, you can’t get out. They know damn well what they see. But what is important, is we teach them how to deal with it. And we shouldn’t ignore that. But currently, I feel like too many try to ignore, like I can read here.

    I just turned 11 when 9/11 happened. I knew damn well what was going on. I am grateful for the work of this artist. He shows what I experienced at that age.
    And I am grateful for my parents, to explain to me what I saw. To talk to me about it, and instead of ignoring and acting like I was a child, they helped me process it in the right way.
    I wish other parents did the same thing. Don’t ignore your children and their experiences. Talk to them. Teach them the values.

    Silvy says:

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