/14 Portraits

Cuny Janssen


Photographs of Children and Landscapes in Macedonia, 2003

Cuny Janssen photographs children. She does so with a purpose. Her aim is to show how children, regardless of topographical, historical, and cultural differences, are essentially the same wherever they are in the world. Her photographed portraits are concerned with the universal equality of humankind.

When she won second prize of the Prix de Rome in 2002 a member of the jury challenged her to photograph in regions of war. Rising to the challenge she departed for Macedonia in 2003. Macedonia is a landscape on the Balkan Peninsular. Opinions on where the borders lie have varied down the centuries. For the last ten years Macedonia has been a country, an independent republic. Cuny Janssen chose this country for its ethnic diversity. The children she photographed there were aged between four and fourteen. They had witnessed the armed conflict that broke out in early 2001 when Albanian rebels took up arms. The Macedonian government fought back. In the conflict that followed hundreds died or were wounded, entire villages were destroyed, and more than 100,000 people were forced to flee. The Albanian and Macedonian children in this book are joined by Roma children, victims of the war in Kosovo. Pensive looks of premature wisdom, but also of pride, merely hint at the changes that grip their lives.

Cuny Janssen also photographs landscapes. Her landscapes have a highly particular quality. They are not topographical, but are intended as settings for the theatre of nature. They are governed by such universal factors as silence, time and light. These landscapes acquire a universal value and consequently appear marvellously untainted.

The photographs in this book present a kind of calm after the storm. There is an openness to these images that is not unaware, but which consciously remains at a remove from judgement and partisanship.