Seen and Not Heard

A performance installation created by young people aged 12-16.

Complicité Creative Learning, in association with artsdepot funded by John Lyons Charity.

Historically, children have had little control over how they are represented in photographs, whether amateur – the holiday snap taken by devoted parents – or commercial – the grinning toddler waking up from a dry night in Pampers. Adults, and adult concerns, have shaped our idea of what childhood looks like.

Suddenly, with the explosion of the internet and accessible digital photography, young people from across the social spectrum are able to create their own images of themselves and do pretty much anything with those images – literally at the click of a button.

Does the era of social media mark an increase in narcissism and image-obsession? Or does the rise of the selfie mean that children are finally able to take control of their own images?

Seen and Not Heard is a participatory performance project which explores young people’s experiences of photography, social media and to what extent they are in control of their images online. Created through a series of workshops, the performance sees the young participants running a working photographic studio, in which they take control of audiences as they dress, style and pose them for photographs.

In 2016, Complicité made two versions of Seen and Not Heard at artsdepot in August and Southbank Centre’s WHY: What’s Happening for Young People? festival in October.

Seen and Not Heard was developed in association with artsdepot and funded by John Lyon’s Charity.

© Richard Lakos