Anastasya Uskov: Through Young Kam Eyes
Student Anastasya Uskov distributed disposable cameras to twelve middle school children and had them document their daily lives. The children wrote brief essays about what they photographed: families, friends and their surroundings.
Anastasya Uskov writes:
The summer heat is sweltering above the village of Dimen, even as the sun sits low in the sky. Having spent all morning working the fields, most of the village won’t stir until dusk. However all isn’t quiet, as the children of Dimen romp through the village square and the river below, catching dragonflies and jumping from logs into pockets of deep water. Every year, once their summer vacation begins, these children return to Dimen while their parents remain in distant cities, working in factories to support their families. Many of these children will find themselves following in their parents’ footsteps as early as 16 years old, but for now, Dimen is their summer sanctuary.
In an effort to capture a very different view of Kam life, Anastasya Uskov traveled to Dimen with a dozen disposable cameras. With the help of Marie Lee, Anastasya was able to give cameras to children throughout the village. There were only a few guidelines - not to take all the photos in one day, and to take photos of things the children liked or were important to them. With only a short training on how to use the cameras, the children went forth to capture their world on film for the first time.
The resulting photographs show a world hidden from the prying eyes of foreigners. Overwhelmingly, the children took photos of their families, capturing elusive smiles on grandparents and younger siblings. Some offer a look into homes, and many explore the mountains and village rooftops. But most of all, each group of photos offers a glimpse into the values of these children before they find themselves caught up in the quickly changing world of adulthood.
Although the photographs were developed once Anastasya returned to the United States, she has sentsend all of the photos back to Dimen to be given to the children who took them. In all, nine children created a set of photos and returned the cameras, to whom goes out a special thanks: Wu Ming Xiong, Wu Rong Kang, Wu Sheng Feng, Wu Tuo Kun, Wu Xiang Xia, Wu Xiang Yin, Wu Xin Ju, Zhi Li, and Wu Zhi Mei.
Wu Zhi Mei and her photographs: