To many grown-ups, children are uncontrollable and unlawful beings; so they do whatever is necessary to keep their children under control. The working class in India believe that a child’s playfulness is a barrier to achieving success. Hence they meticulously work towards replacing childishness with hyper-competitiveness, making the child think their destiny is to be accepted into the most acclaimed university in the country.
The photographs for Siva Sai Jeevanantham’s project Upside Down, were created by sharing control of the image-making process with the children involved, giving them the freedom to express their curiosity before the camera.
The essence of being a child is curiosity – to constantly question and challenge the rules. Jeevanantham perceives this personality to be the soul of dissent — the very act of being unlawful when someone is oppressed. For the child it is the oppression of being forced into becoming products for an education system that promises ideals of success.
In Jeevanantham’s words the destruction of childhood is like “an ancient grandmother with poor vision, who thwarts our playfulness just because we are not following her path to success, and choose to live our life the way we desire. Well, she is like the Indian education system; they simply cannot tolerate [it] if we do something that is Upside Down.”
Upside Down by Siva Sai Jeevanantham was selected by FORMAT 21 Open Call Juror – Tanvi Mishra, photo editor and curator.