The Frailty Project


The Frailty Project informally began as a mental note of demographics in the passport photo business. Relative to the representation of Canadian ethnic minority customers, the number of young white children seemed disproportionately high. Over the 14 months and hundreds—perhaps thousands—of passport photos I'd taken for customers during that period, I always wondered why this was.

Though an internationalist (ie, travel) attitude is to be expected from newly-arrived immigrants, it surprised me to find caucasian and multi-generational Canadians dominating the travelling class of children and infants. Upon reflection, this is no surprise: racial economic disparity will favor the ability of white Canadians to travel at their leisure, and bring the rest of the family with them. 

The series is photographed in the manner of passport photographs, rigidly adhering to the government specifications laid forth. 

It's the [dis]juncture between travel patterns across age, race, & citizenship, and the inverse, parallel relationship—between 'old' citizens leaving Canada with a new life & 'new' citizens arriving in Canada without their old one—that forms part of the subject of this series. 

The other subject is their expressions. Expressionless children alone could a subject in themselves. Removing the contrived and hyper-idealized smile of youth from the photographic equation is jarring, unfamiliar—though required for admittance into, or departure from, our countries. Children, outside the flaring volatility of their caustic and vaguely-directed tantrums, are expected to put smiles on. But I've always wondered: may it in fact be a relief for them to relax their highly-policed facial muscles? 

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