2013-2015 Spuren der Bedeutung / Traces de Sens / Traces Of Meaning
This project is based on a work also shown in the exhibition in L’humain laisse une trace de sens / Man Leaves A Traces Of Meaning. I asked my children to walk back and forth, on two separate sheets of paper, telling them to imagine in what way they would walk going somewhere and in what way they would walk coming back home. What struck me: each pair of traces was different for each child.
This now I do with children of different ages and different nationalities. I put down two sheets of paper next to each other. In very simple words I tell that a footprint is very personal, like a fingerprint. Then I ask the child: imagine where you walk to, where you travel to? Where would you like to go and how would you feel to go there?
If they are very small they go to their grandparents, wherever they are. They take a bottle of water or a toy with them. Walking back they go home to mum and dad.
If they are a bit older, I tell about people who need to flee from their country and I ask: how would you walk if you don’t have anything any more, if you are a refugee? And how would you feel when you could go back to your country? In this way every trace is left consciously by the child on the two pristine sheets of paper.
What emerges in the end is the character of the child: open or closed, fast or slow, confident or vulnerable, jumping or hesitant, dancing or sad. Not just traces and prints, but the identity of the child: this a child that wants to conquer, that a child that wants to be unobtrusive. I was amazed to discover that in this way character and identity can become so clear and visible.