WARNING: CONTENT MAY OFFEND. Jonathan Hobin says his photo re-enactments of events like 9/11 have been polarizing -- because the images feature children. Work from Hobin's "In the Playroom" series will be on display in Toronto next month.
For Picasso's masterpiece Guernica, it was the German bombing of a Spanish town. For Ottawa art photographer Jonathan Hobin's Twins, it was 9/11.Current events have always inspired art and Hobin's latest instalment in his controversial series ``In the Playroom'' is an arresting modern example.Each of his photos depicts children at play re-enacting tragic public events.Hobin, 33, has portrayed familiar stories, such as a Halloween-inspired Abu Ghraib prison scene, a portrait of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong il, and JonBenet Ramsay dressed in a pageant gown, among others.He says the child models in his photographs are unpaid volunteers, and are either the children of friends and family, or models from agencies.``I definitely would never have photographed a child unless I fully communicated what I was going to do,'' he said in an interview.Parents ``had to believe in what I was doing if I was going to photograph their child.''The idea for the series came after Hobin witnessed the repeated and unforgettable images of the planes striking the World Trade Center towers on 9/11.``I started to think: 'I'm an adult and I can kind of handle what that means,''' he said.``But with someone who is not as equipped as I am with problem-solving or just life experiences, how are they going to see that sort of thing? How are they going to comprehend what that means?''By portraying children acting out headline-grabbing news events, Hobin explores how young minds deal with the unsettling side of the modern media-scape.``It goes back to this whole notion that children always have incorporated things they see in popular culture into their play,'' he said.``In fact, science shows that children need to physically re-enact things in order to process them. There's a tactile nature to their minds.''