These award-winning, large-scale works by acclaimed photo artist and art director Jonathan Hobin show children enacting their versions of major events — the World Trade Center attacks, the murder of child beauty-queen JonBenét Ramsey, or the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The dark themes of In the Playground have made the works controversial. Critics have both praised and denounced the use of children, earning Hobin the reputation as one of the most polarizing contemporary visual artists in Canada. (Above: American Idol)
In the Playroom is a metaphor for the impossibility of a protective space safe from the reach of modern media. The inquisitive propensity of youth and the pervasive nature of the media are symbolically represented in these images through tableau-vivant re-enactments of the very current events that adults might wish to keep out of their child’s world –Notes for the exhibition of Hobin’s work at this year’s Contact Photography Festival, through May in Toronto.
Anyone with children will recognize Hobin’s expression of the troubling power of a child’s imagination. “Whether or not children completely understand the magnitude of an event such as 9/11, or the implications of their play, their willingness to confront catastrophe, as imagined by Hobin, critiques cultural assumptions about the innocence of childhood,” the Contact Festival notes point out.
This work – 39 Lashes – reflects news around Tammy Faye Messner, the former televangelist and Christian singer who battled drug addiction and later inoperable cancer. Below, an expression of torture at Abu Ghraib.
A Boo Grave
Jonathan Hobin’s work has appeared in newspapers and magazines, on CNN’s Newsroom and on national Canadian TV. His art direction credits include films for Bravo!, CBC Television and the Lifetime Channel. Hobin was the Canadian production designer for the first Slovenian/Canadian film co-production, The Maiden Danced to Death (2010), a collaboration with Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. Hobin recently won the open call for the prestigious International Photography Festival GuatePhoto. He has a 2003 BFA in Image Arts: Photography, from Ryerson University in Toronto.
Images from In the Playroom are from Hobin’s artist page at Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Toronto
Jonathan Hobin’s website, here.