In Canadian photographer Jonathan Hobin's series In the Playroom, the artist assembles richly detailed scenes dramatizing, on a small scale, terrible disasters and grotesque tragedies — all recreated with children. Like, small, toddler-y children.
Hobin's sets are playrooms or play areas, like sandboxes and pools, and the kids play dress up: Look, a miniature Princess Diana pouting as a paparazzo snaps photos on a hopscotch outline. And there's an eerily similar-looking Jim Jones childhood doppelganger smiling over a Kool-Aid jar and dozens of scattered, down-facing dolls.
Then there are sets for Abu Ghraib, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina — with three black toddlers standing around kiddie pools with floaties and inner tubes tagged with the presidential seal and "FEMA.". The artist's statement:
In the Playroom is a metaphor for the impossibility of a protective space safe from the reach of modern media. The quizzical disposition of youth and the pervasive nature of the media are symbolically represented in my images through tableau-vivant re-enactments of the very current events that adults might wish to keep out of their child’s world. Just as children make a game of pretending to be adults as a way to prepare and ultimately take on these roles in later life, so too do they explore things that they hear or see, whether or not they completely understand the magnitude of the event or the implications of their play.
The Katrina piece is the least-striking, at least immediately. (I mean, there's a JonBenet Ramsey lookalike simulating hanging herself with pantyhose, so.) I'm just reminded of this scene: