August 21, 2014 10:00 am
Updated: August 21, 2014 10:54 am

Artist Provocateur: Jonathan Hobin’s Play Therapy


WATCH: 16×9’s “Artist Provocateur”

Thirty-four year-old Jonathan Hobin looks like a giant inside his diminutive home. His tall, lanky frame bent in half as he peers into his camera’s viewfinder. “Can I get a sniffle? Can you squeeze your eyes like you’re going to cry?”

Hobin is photographing six year-old Alex Zapata for his new work, “Cry Babies” – a provocative series of photos and videos – that examine issues of trauma in youth.

“I think we all have sort of a tragedy in our own personal story that has shaped the way we are,” Hobin says. “I wanted to go back into some of those stories.”

At his shoot today, young Alex is wearing a Boy Scouts uniform, his face smeared with lipstick. The image is meant to provoke a discussion around gender issues in childhood.

“I think we are in a culture where we shame kids into behaving a certain way,” Hobin explains. “Kids should be free to express who they are.”

“Cry Babies” may be Hobin’s most controversial work yet – but he is no stranger to controversy.

GALLERY: A selection of photos from Jonathan Hobin’s series “In the Playroom”

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Last year, his series, “In the Playroom” caused a stir for its imagery of kids playing the roles of people from real-life events. Some of the most arresting photos saw children acting out the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, 9/11 terrorist attacks and the murder of beauty pageant contestant, Jonbenet Ramsay.

And while some praised the work, Hobin also received death threats and was called a pedophile.

“I’d rather have people say that they hate the work than say that it’s okay,” says Hobin. “If I’m going in that polarized direction, I’m really hitting the mark.”

“Cry Babies” is expected to be complete sometime in 2014. Already a gallery in Guatemala has asked to exhibit it, sight unseen.

WATCH BELOW: Producer, Hannah James, talks about meeting with Jonathan Hobin, a Canadian photographer who uses children to act out dramatic, real-life events.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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