Archive | November, 2015

Like a pearl in my hand

4 Nov

Who opens the book Like a Pearl in My Hand, wouldn’t see anything but black pages. But if you lay a hand on any of the pages, your body temperature will drive out the darkness. Suddenly there are portraits visible of blind or very bad seeing Chinese children. In this way, you can ‘see’ the images by using your hands, just like the children have to do by themselves every day.

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The children are portrayed by the Dutch photographer and artist Carina Hesper. They live in a shelter for orphaned children with visual impairments, which was set up by a French couple. Thanks to the one child policy in China, most blind and disabled children end up in an orphanage.

Disabled children are seen as a problem. They aren’t able to make money and thus cannot provide for their parents. And these often can’t even pay the medical costs. Disabled children in China are also seen as a punishment for the shortcomings of their parents; a restriction there is something to be ashamed of.

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The portraits in the book are covered with heat sensitive ink, and only become visible at a temperature of 25 degrees. On a cold day, only the part of the picture underneath the hand will be visible. On a hot day the picture will be fully visible, like a normal book. People sometimes even work together to see the whole picture by putting multiple hands on the picture.

The inspiration for this technique goes back to Hesper’s own youth. As a teenager, she had a mug with a picture of a mountain on it, which changed into an erupting volcano when a hot drink was donated in it. Years later it came back to her mind and she would to work with it as an artist. The ink provides a very direct, physical experience, and the story of ‘Like a Pearl in My Hand’ is a good project therefore.

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It is not a cheap book to produce. That is mainly due to the cost of the heat sensitive ink. 30.000 euros (half of her budget) needs to be spend to bring the book on the market. To collect this amount of money, Hester started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. She probably wouldn’t get any profit out of it (she hopes to get her own investment back) but that doesn’t stop her from making a portion of the proceeds to donate to the shelter.

Like a Pearl in My Hand has already been shown on several exhibitions in the Netherlands, including in the eye hospital during the museum night in Rotterdam, UNSEEN and the Unfair art fair.