The exhibition “Enslavement, Evolvement, Desire?” opens at the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavík today, displaying a selection of photographs featuring children at work in Iceland, both at sea and on land, from 1920 to 1950.
The exhibition raises questions on the employment culture and upbringing of children in Iceland in the 20th century. It also covers how photographs can change our attitudes towards the past in relation to the context in which they are presented.
The photographs are intended to stimulate discussions and encourage visitors to look at the past from a different perspective. They shed a light on child labor, children’s working conditions and the relationships between child laborers and fishermen.
When does an adventure and a healthy employment culture change into enslavement? When do the circumstances become overwhelming for small children, physically and mentally? Where should lines have been drawn?
These questions were included in a study on child labor in Iceland by cultural researcher Sigrún Sigurdardóttir, the exhibition’s creator. Her book Afturgöngur og afskipti af sannleikanum (“Ghosts and Interference with the Truth”) is published in conjunction with the exhibition.
The exhibition runs through September 6.