Little Ones is a captivating collection of Alessia Bulgari’s photographs of children from all around the world; from Barbados, Morocco and India, to her native Italy. The project was conceived 15 years ago when Alessia showed her close friend Marina Abramović the photographs she had started taking of children, both of her own friends and family and in the various countries she had visited. Marina saw immediately their special and universal appeal, and the power they had to ‘waken in you long-hidden childhood memories that reconnect you with the little one you used to be’.
Alessia has always been fascinated by children’s openness to the world around them – children do what they feel like and thus enjoy being, whereas adults seem to have lost the capacity for wonder. Her images capture moments which we can all identify with; we were all once vulnerable and dependent on others, getting lost in day dreams, or giggling in pure joy. In her foreword, Marina recalls that of the many times she has been photographed by Alessia, she has not once felt intimidated by her presence. This quality of the photographer, as well as the fact she did not ask the children featured to pose, or ask them to do anything other than what they were doing, has allowed her to capture pure moments in time.
Alessia’s fascination with capturing childhood moments began during her very first job as an assistant, when she travelled to Barbados for a fashion shoot. During her trip she stumbled upon a crowded schoolyard where she was enchanted by the children playing, and extended her trip in order to photograph them. Having recently lost a childhood friend, the sight of the children playing, “ Made me seek the abundant vitality in children and focus my camera on them.” Many of these photos were taken while Alessia was travelling as a film-set photographer. The first film she worked on was The Sheltering Sky in Morocco directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.
Despite the spectacle offered on set, her attention was diverted by the children that lingered around the film crew: both the young extras and the curious onlookers. She was captivated by the two different realities that she saw before her – the cinematic elite working hard towards the creation of a film, versus the local children that were transfixed by their workings. Alessia’s work is always shaped by her curiosity towards what children see, and feel, and how they perceive the world that we inhabit.
All the profits from Little Ones will be donated to the Pianoterra Foundation, a charity of which Alessia is co-founder and president. Pianoterra, founded in 2008, works with vulnerable mothers and children in Italy. The foundation’s name, meaning ‘ground floor’, illustrates its ethos – working with vulnerable mothers and children at ‘street-level’, thus understanding both the hardships they suffer, as well as discovering their potential. Pianoterra aims to prevent the health and developmental problems that children may suffer in situations of poverty and marginality. The proceeds from this publication will go towards the foundation’s provision of essentials such as powdered milk and clothes for those in urgent need, as well as cultural schemes which provide vulnerable individuals with the opportunity for personal growth and regaining of self-esteem.
Little Ones was launched on Tuesday 14th March 2017 at the Italian Cultural Institute in London in the presence of Alessia Bulgari and Marina Abramović.