Award-winning photographer Nick Ballon and conceptual artist Alma Haser have partnered up to produce a series of conceptual, photographs and animations, visualising the mental health impact of conflict on Syrian children, to mark six years since the war began.
Commissioned by Save the Children, the artists worked with six refugee children now living in Turkey. The initiative coincides with a major research project by the charity, Invisible Wounds, which found widespread evidence of ‘toxic stress’ and mental health issues among children still living inside Syria.
In order to visualise the invisible, psychological pain these children suffer, Save the Children worked with the two artists to produce a powerful photography and animation project – the first collaboration of its kind. All of the images, photographed by Nick Ballon near the Turkey-Syria border where these children now live, have been physically manipulated and art-worked by Alma Haser using a variety of creative techniques, including ripping, folding, crumpling and origami – each one selected to suit the story the children told.
Alongside the images, Save the Children has also produced a series of short animations which combine video of the portraits being manipulated with audio testimonies from the children and their relatives. In contrast with the now familiar news imagery of Syria’s war, this project offers a different visual perspective, bringing to the fore the brutal psychological scars of war which usually remain out of sight.
For the Invisible Wounds report, Save the Children and its Syrian partners interviewed more than 450 children, adolescents and adults inside Syria in the largest study of its kind conducted during the course of the conflict. It found that children are living in an almost constant state of fear, terrified by shelling, airstrikes and ongoing violence, with devastating psychological consequences.