How Old Am I?
By Gigi Eligoloff •
A children’s book has come along that manages to rejoice in one of the most maligned differences between us — our age.
How Old Am I? celebrates time passing in its simplest form, as each page turns, we journey through and with the faces and lives of 100 people aged from 1-100.
It’s a small but perfect book, chronicling our shared journey through life, transforming the ageing process into a gentle invitation.
As the publishers point out — for young children, the concept of age is abstract when they don’t have a relatable context. Not any more, as this brilliant visual reference gives children an important appreciation and understanding of the ageing process we will all experience.
In addition to taking and submitting their self-portraits, each participant answers a handful of questions. Questions we probably all ponder in life at one point or another. ‘What makes you happy?, ‘What do you hope for the world?’ with the different answers demonstrating brilliantly both the differences, and similarities that make us humans endlessly fascinating.
How Old Am I? is a collaboration between iconic photographer, artist and disruptor JR, and Julie Pugeat, his Studio Director. This is their second book together, the first, 2019’s ‘Wrinkles’ was an equally loving celebration of the power and the joy we can share in the story of growing older.
Each black and white portrait in How Old Am I? brings together memories, experiences and emotions of old and young and dares to show that wrinkles might actually be a good thing – indeed a badge of honour. What a wonderful way to begin young on the positive narratives of ‘age’ and ageing by showcasing all of us, but most especially older people as not all one homogenous ‘other’ land. Each exquisite face reflects different expressions ranging from the sombre to the downright silly, and all the diversity of human emotion in between.
Signs of ageing have been brandished as a threat for far too long – wrinkles, sagging jowls, crows feet – said together they sound like a bad spell in a Disney fairy tale.
But, what a wonderful evolution ageing and changing actually is – growing ‘up’ not just from toddler to teen, but from our 20s and 30s to our 70s and 80s is miraculous. We need more books like this that normalise ageing so we can enjoy changing, and stop fighting.
JR is the enigmaticParisian artist/activist behind some of the world’s most provocative large-scale public photography projects. He’s the force behind the Can Art Change the World? Inc, a not for profit organisation aiming to use the power of art, culture and education to bring social awareness and change around the world. His work appears around the world, most recently at the Brooklyn Museum and at San Francisco’s MoMA.
Julie Pugeat is JR’s Studio Director and a mother of two, based in Annecy, France. She collaborated with JR on Wrinkles, her first critically acclaimed picture book for young children.
How Old Am I? Is part of the Inside Out Project. Named the people’s art project, it’s a platform that helps communities around the world to stand up for what they believe in and spark global change locally. Group Leaders create their Actions by displaying large-scale black and white portraits of members from their community in public spaces. Together, they create a work of public art!
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This story has been categorised as:Ageism Education & Learning
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